Pharmacy Students Serve Nearly 1200 Patients During Jamaican Mission Trip

By Colby Gallagher

Published on July 16, 2019

Jamaica in the summer sounds like a vacation, but for one group of USciences students, it was another step in their academic career to prepare them for a job in the healthcare industry.

As they enter their final year in earning a doctorate of pharmacy, 11 student pharmacists used the education they’ve had so far to provide comprehensive medical services to underserved communities in Jamaica with an interprofessional team of medicine, nursing, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

“This experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Alexandra Cerino PharmD’20. “The most meaningful part of this trip was being able to see how our clinical services touched the lives of the Jamaican patients.”

The medical mission trip allowed the student pharmacists and four faculty members to open 18 free health clinics over the course of 9 days in different parishes throughout the country.

“Seeing how happy the patients were for us just being there was priceless,” said Eric Stratoti PharmD’20. “The patients were so grateful, even if they were just receiving multivitamins.”

Sonia Jacob PharmD’20 was advising a lifelong smoker, who had tried unsuccessfully to quit, of the dangers of using cigarettes.

Jamaica Mission Trip 2019“He said ‘God bless you guys for your service. Next time you’re in Jamaica, come find me. I will use what you told me to quit, and I’ll have you to thank for that.’, said Jacob. “This mission trip gave me the confidence to make an impact in this patient’s life and motivate him to look for a reason to quit in his own life while educating about the benefits of quitting.”

“This trip made me realize that even though we weren’t able to help everyone, as long as we were able to help one person, we were able to make a difference,” said Daniel Leehan PharmD’20.

Ugonna Amadiegwu PharmD'20 said she was nervous at first to begin this new journey, but took the chance becuase it was an opportunity to practice what textbooks cannot teach. 

"This rotation gave me the chance to stand on my own and rely on my own knowledge," said Amadiegwu. "I can’t imagine feeling the type of rush, satisfaction and appreciation anywhere in the states, to put it simply, the aura is just different there. I can now take the knowledge of the unique disease states seen in Jamaica and ever-growing knowledge of medication to future rotations and apply it to all future patient cases. I will always be grateful  to those who contributed and assisted my team in any way, shape, or form."

The students were able to see how their career and position fits into the larger medical picture and the important role a pharmacist plays within a multidisciplinary healthcare team.

“Pharmacists are the key caretakers of medication and they truly know what is involved with each medication and how to dispense each one,” said Andrej Quatrone PharmD’20.

It’s one thing to learn inside a classroom, but pharmacy students said it’s another to interact with real patients, especially those who are in need. Jamaica Mission Trip 2019

“I learned to be more confident in my recommendations to providers and provide accurate patient profile presentations to our preceptors,” said Melissa Vargas PharmD’20.

The faculty enjoy seeing the students on the trip come back with more confidence, clinical knowledge, and satisfaction that they truly make a difference in the lives of those they served.

Throughout the medical mission trip, the team of healthcare students, faculty, and volunteers treated nearly 1,200 patients, dispensing over 2,000 prescriptions.

Categories: News, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Pharmacy, Students, USciences, Interprofessional Education, Faculty,