Wegmans School of Pharmacy Engage in Meaningful Global Service

June 6, 2024

This spring, students from the Wegmans School of Pharmacy embarked on life-changing trips to Roatan, Honduras and Ipalamwa, Tanzania, where they provided vital health care services to underserved communities. For many of these students, it marked their first experience participating in medical service abroad.

Jack LaStrange and Katie Leaty at the clinic in Roatan.

Filling Prescriptions and Easing Burdens

Katie Leaty, a fourth-year pharmacy (P4) student, traveled to Roatan for an Advanced Practice Pharmacy Experience (APPE) rotation along with fellow P4 Jack LaStrange. “This was my first chance to engage in a medical mission trip. Given the challenges posed by the pandemic during our pharmacy school years, I eagerly seized the chance to complete this mission as part of my APPE rotation,” she said.

While in Roatan, the students worked with a diverse team of health care professionals, including dentists, specialized physicians (pediatricians, OBGYNs, and internists), nurses, and other volunteers.

“The clinic operates primarily on medication donations, which often led to situations where optimal therapies were unavailable,” Leaty explained. “As pharmacy students, we stepped in to provide recommendations for substitutable medications. I was able to use my knowledge of medications to guide providers on using interchangeable drugs based on inventory.”

The students spent the majority of their time working alongside the sole pharmacist in a Roatan clinic, who regularly fills between 300 and 600 prescriptions daily, in addition to managing medication donations and pharmacy paperwork. “Our presence was a huge help, allowing [the pharmacist] to focus on patient care while we assisted with prescription fulfillment,” Leaty said.

Creating Personal and Professional Growth

Beyond the pharmacy, the students worked with the clinic’s community nurse providing health assessments for children. “We charted the height and weight of each child and discussed any acute illnesses or health concerns with their parents and families,” Leaty explained.

Katie Leaty conducts a health assessment for a young child in Roatan.

The trip brought classroom learning to life, exposing the students to differences in education and health care practices and creating moments for personal and professional growth.

“As our final rotation of the P4 year, I’m thankful for the chance to meet incredible people, serve those in need, and learn from a new culture,” Leaty said.

Fourth-year students Jesi Godin, Beatrice Diaz, Abby Belford, Meredith Allen, and Makenna Moll spent three weeks in Ipalamwa, working with Global Volunteers’ Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) program. They worked in the local clinic funded by Global Volunteers, presented health education workshops, and helped staff with home visits to mothers and children to help reinforce lessons from the workshops and provide support on health and nutrition-based topics.