The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

March 2, 2014

Wilkes pharmacy prof takes knowledge on road ... to Uganda

— DANVILLE — A Wilkes University professor and Danville resident will build a better pharmacy program at a Ugandan University this month.

KarenBeth Bohan, an associate professor of pharmacy at Wilkes University’s Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and Nursing, has made several trips to Ugandan hospitals and universities in the past and has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant to help improve the pharmacy curriculum at Uganda’s Makerere University.

She will spend all of March in Uganda to start developing the curriculum, and will make additional month-long trips in September and November to further refine it.

“They want to advance pharmacy practice as a whole in Uganda,” she said.

A college pharmaceutical curriculum in Uganda is a four-year degree program, whereas in the United States it is a six-year doctor of pharmacy degree program. A key difference between the two is that the U.S. program focuses on teaching students how to interact with patients and healthcare providers so the pharmacists can make their own recommendations on providing care. In Uganda, the emphasis is more on theory and classroom instruction.

“In Uganda, the experiential component is missing,” Bohan said. While Ugandan pharmacy students learn the science of drugs and the theory of dealing with hospitals and patients, they are basically just in a classroom for all four years of their degree.

“They’re not in the hospital setting, practicing anything they’ve learned with patients,” Bohan said. “They don’t have the skills to be able to interact with the physicians to help them with their drug therapy choices. … They don’t even learn how to counsel patients.”

Bohan’s job will be to develop a curriculum that teaches such skills to Ugandan pharmacy students.

“In Uganda, they really want to have that practice,” she said. “They know it exists in the rest of the world.”

The grant money will support Bohan’s travel expenses while Makerere University covers her room, board and in-country transportation.

One thing Bohan does not want to do is simply copy the program from Wilkes. “I don’t want them to be Wilkes University, or to do exactly what we do in the U.S. I want to figure out what their needs are,” she said.

Bohan started traveling to Uganda in the summer of 2011. During that time, she was part of a group conducting a pilot research project to assess the impact of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education initiatives in western Uganda’s Masindi District.

She began working with Makerere University on that trip to arrange exchanges between students and faculty.

She previously took Wilkes students with her on global health rotations to Uganda’s Mulago National Referral Hospital.

“Every time I go, it just gets better and better,” she said. “Each time I meet more people, go back and work with other people — the relationships have grown better every time.”

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