Meagan Schut is a student pharmacist in the class of 2019 based in Yakima, Washington. She recently had the experience of a lifetime on rotation in Peru.

In the final year of pharmacy school, students complete six pharmacy practice rotations called Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE). APPE rotations are immersive and experience-based learning under the supervision of a pharmacy preceptor, and prepare the student for professional practice. A seventh rotation is optional, and some students apply for an international rotation. The WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences offers international options for rotations in Ecuador, Peru, Vietnam, and Whales.

The Peru rotation is a joint experience between the Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy through a non-profit organization called People of Peru Project, which provides free medical and dental care to impoverished populations. The goal of this rotation is to provide an experience for both nursing and pharmacy students through assessing and implementing global community health by providing nursing and pharmacy services to the people and communities in the Amazon region of Peru.

After finishing the first of three intense weeks abroad, Schut shared some of her thoughts on her experience…

Peru Rotation Reflection

By: Meagan Schut, class of 2019

Meagan Schut
Meagan Schut, class of 2019

When I applied for the Peru rotation back in December, I didn’t know what to expect. What surprised me though was that I was the only pharmacy student going on the trip. Our group is comprised of two nursing faculty, one pharmacy faculty, another pharmacist, and 18 nursing students. We met a few times for informational meetings before our trip, but not enough to get to know each other. What I’ve found here in Iquitos is a close community of health care providers all working together toward a common goal. I was amazed at how welcoming and caring all the nursing students have been. We’ve only been working together for six days, but we collaborate so well that it would appear we’ve known each other for months. We have been joined by a facial/cranial trauma surgeon as well. While we’re here, we are working with the People of Peru Project, their interpreters, and volunteers.

With another two weeks of the program to go, I feel we’ve already accomplished a lot. We’ve done a number of activities such as exploring the Belen market where most of the surrounding communities purchase their food and other goods, doing a community assessment, visiting people’s homes, touring a local hospital, clinic, special needs school, and the botanical garden of natural medicine. The two clinics we have completed so far have been very educational. The first was at a women’s prison. We are the first group to ever be allowed to give a medical clinic at that facility. We could not help with every woman’s medical problems, but we could validate them by listening to their stories and conversing with them in a manner that shows we care. Being our first clinic, it took a bit of getting used to, there were a few things that we forgot to bring, however it was helpful for the next clinic. During the slow times in the pharmacy we were able to go out to the assessment teams to help diagnose and give input on optimal drug selection. Our second clinic was in a local neighborhood. We had approximately 200 patients throughout the day. Again, we could not help every individual with our limited formulary, but together pharmacy, nursing, and dental were able to work together to educate people about how to take care of themselves.

Before each of the clinics we did prep work, which gave me the opportunity to educate the nursing students on the varying roles of pharmacists, technicians, and assistants. All of the nursing students are very appreciative of the pharmacists they have worked with and now have more a working idea of what they do. We have discovered the importance of documentation and communication as a team. Even when everyone’s in one room within 30 feet of each other, it is amazing how difficult it is to get the full picture of one patient visit. We have had several nursing students rotate through the pharmacy and everyone is willing to go wherever they are needed in order to help as many people as possible. Everything here is so different from what I am used to, and time seems to be flying by. When I signed up, I thought three weeks sounded like a long time, but being here and seeing the smiles on people’s faces when we visit their communities and set up our clinics is very rewarding. I wish I had more time here. In the big picture we are just a drop in the bucket, but I think any life we can impact in a positive way is worth the time and effort.