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15 June 2023
Youth Month: Visiting US Students Learn About SA Healthcare System
A group of US students from Washington State University in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences visited their peers at UWC’s School of Pharmacy. This is how the group jointly responded when asked about the visit:

What is your mission?

We are here to observe the differences in healthcare and treatments between the United States and South Africa. We hope by working with the South African Clinical Pharmacy masters students that we can share our experiences from the United States and how we practice in the States. We hope to show the possibilities of change and what it means to work in an interdisciplinary setting. Our goal is to work as a team of healthcare professionals to give each patient the care they need. 

What are you currently studying?

We are currently studying to become licensed Pharmacists in the United States (PharmD).

When did you start, and how long will you be studying at UWC?

We are registered with the South African Pharmacy Council and with the UWC School of Pharmacy for the three weeks that we are in South Africa. This created a great opportunity for us as we were able to interact more with patients and providers in South Africa. 

What (for you) are the major differences in the health system in South Africa (compared to the US)?

Pharmacists in the US have a greater responsibility and share the patient load with clinicians. This allows for more efficient management of patients’ prescription medications and the coordination of patient care by reducing the number of patients lost to follow-up. 

Where can South Africa's health system be improved, in your opinion?

We believe that interdisciplinary teams can greatly improve the healthcare system. When you utilise all aspects of healthcare specialities, whether it be doctors, dieticians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, or social workers,  patients can be treated holistically, and this will lead to improved patient outcomes. Interdisciplinary teams need greater acceptance and integration in standard healthcare practice. Pharmacists are knowledgeable in medication management and drug to drug interactions. We are qualified to make evidence based recommendations, which benefit patients and the healthcare system. If pharmacists in South Africa were given a broader scope of practice, patients would have greater access to care. 

What have you learned from this experience so far?

We have learned that facilities in the US and SA are not run the same, but we all have the same goal of caring for each and every patient. 

What do you value most about your experience?

During our experience we have met great people who are ready to carve new pathways in the healthcare system in South Africa. They have great ideas, they are willing to learn, and want to share standards of practice to provide equal access to care. We can see the change starting to happen and we are excited to see what is to come.
Left to right top: Melscaryn Corcino, Sierra Trafton, Rustin Crutchley (lecturer from Washington State University), Rachael Hupp, Tong Thao. Left to right bottom: Janmari Joubert, Kaala Corpuz, and Osman Kabba.