Dean Steve Martin represents ONU at the largest international meeting of pharmacists in the world.
As one of the oldest and most prestigious pharmacy schools in the U.S., ONU’s Raabe College of Pharmacy turns out graduates who become leaders in the profession.
Instilling these future leaders with a global viewpoint is one of the college’s important missions, says Dr. Steven J. Martin, dean of the college. “How do we get students to think globally when our campus is located in the middle of a cornfield?” he asks. “It’s a challenge we take seriously as educators.”
In late August, Martin attended the largest international gathering of pharmacists in the world. The annual conference of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1.
At the conference, Martin gave a well-attended presentation on antimicrobial stewardship in the health care setting. He interacted with pharmacists from Argentina, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Chile, China, India, Ghana, Japan, Nigeria and other countries. And he uncovered insights on the diverse challenges facing pharmacists in other parts of the world.
Upon his return to Ada, Martin shared what he learned with the pharmacy faculty with the goal of infusing course curriculums with the latest global challenges in the practice of pharmacy.
“The challenges that pharmacists face vary from country to country,” he says. “They are different challenges from what pharmacists face in the U.S. and, in many cases, are ones we haven’t even considered.”
For example, after Martin’s presentation on the overuse/misuse of antibiotics, he was approached by a pharmacist from Afghanistan who told him that counterfeit medication was a huge problem in his country. In many cases, physicians prescribe several antibiotics to a patient in the hope that one turns out to be the real deal. “Learning this gave me a different perspective on the notion of stewarding antibiotics,” says Martin.
Other topics that Martin brought back to Ada include the widespread use of social media (even among people in developing countries) and how pharmacists can use these platforms to spread pertinent and accurate health information, the development of resistant strains of tuberculosis in some parts of the world due to the lack of regulation on the pharmacists’ dispensing of antibiotics, and the frontline role that pharmacists play during public health crises such as the SARS outbreak in China and the Ebola outbreak in Africa.
“We may face a language barrier,” says Martin. “But we share a common language of pharmacy, and that unites all pharmacists across the globe.”
Martin explains that bringing global pharmacy issues to the classrooms in Ada, Ohio, will prepare today’s students to become thoughtful and impactful leaders. “When exposed to global ideas and opportunities, our students have the potential to play important roles in the practice of pharmacy not just in the U.S. but across the world,” he says.