Professors serve abroad

School of Pharmacy professors do more than teach. This past spring three professors served as pharmacists on two overseas trips to help the needy.

Dr. Zach Anderson spent a week in the Dominican Republic while Drs. Kate Gerrald and Tommy Johnson served in Honduras.

“I have always felt a calling to serve others, both domestically and overseas,” Anderson said. “This past spring I finally got the chance to use my expertise to give others something that Americans take for granted, which is quality health care.”

The pharmacy school professors traveled with professors and students from a local medical school. While the local school has taken similar service trips before, this year’s trips mark the first time that pharmacists have served.

In addition to filling prescription orders and compounding medications, the School of Pharmacy professors served as preceptors to the medical students and led discussions on pharmacy-related issues.

“Each day was different,” Johnson said. “Since it was first come, first served, people would walk two to three hours sometimes to get treated.”

In Honduras, Johnson and Gerrald set up pharmacies in schools and churches, seeing nearly 100 patients each day. They provided multivitamins, antibiotics, and parasite medications and treated a variety of ailments, including malnourishment, cough and cold, stomach issues, and allergies.

In addition, Johnson and Gerrald provided well child checks to children at an orphanage.

In the Dominican Republic, Anderson established day clinics in churches, schools, and in a local resident’s home. He treated more than 500 patients with a variety of health concerns.

“You often see television commercials about the poverty of third world countries,” Anderson said, “but I can honestly say that those commercials could never compare to how heavy my heartstrings were tugged when I got to meet the Dominican patients.”

School of Pharmacy professors have served on various service trips since the school’s founding. The school is currently looking to incorporate similar trips into students’ rotations so that students can gain valuable experience while benefiting from serving others.

“I was touched by how thankful people were for what at times was very little — even just for multivitamins which we take for granted here,” Gerrald said. “As an educator, it was also an excellent experience to see students embrace their knowledge and use it to make a difference in the lives of the patients we provided medications to.”