BROADENING MY PHARMACY HORIZONS IN AUSTRALIA

Written By: Mudit Verma, Fourth-Year Student Pharmacist


Fourth-year rotations have been incredibly fulfilling, helping to prepare me to take on the role as one of the most trusted members of the health care team upon graduation this spring. I was even fortunate enough to complete an international rotation from Nov. 6 to Dec. 8, in a renal transplant ward at The Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The Royal Melbourne Hospital is one of Australia’s leading public teaching hospitals and is heavily engaged in clinical research.

Diving In, Head First

As soon as I arrived in Australia, I delved into the professional responsibilities of a renal transplant pharmacist, who makes clinical recommendations for kidney transplant patients to an interprofessional team comprised of nurses, physicians, dietitians, social workers, and clinical assistants. My mentors provided me with hands-on experience in medication therapy management, patient education, and interprofessional teamwork. Adhering to renal transplant medications can be a daunting endeavor for patients due to the dramatic increase in new medications and subsequent array of adverse effects. I helped educate patients about their new medications by concisely verbalizing dosing instructions at a level that matched each patient’s understanding, while also employing images from the medication chart. I also periodically asked my patients questions to better engage with them.

Outside of direct patient care, I also helped manage immunosuppressant drug-drug interactions and monitored therapeutic medication levels, such as the concentration of tacrolimus (an immunosuppressant) in patients’ blood. My preceptor then adjusted each patient’s pharmacotherapy based on our analyses.

Gaining a New Perspective

One element of the experience that immediately stuck out to me was that none of the health care professionals wore white coats in the hospital. I eventually learned that white coats are not typically worn in hospitals throughout Australia, which is notably different from the United States. I appreciated this change because, from my view, normalizing white coats among a select few team members creates social barriers among both professionals and patients. Although I have participated in hospital rotations where nearly all health care professionals donned white coats, patients were still visibly distinguished as the only stakeholders not wearing white coats, which might hinder their propensity to build rapport with the professionals overseeing their care. I felt that the ubiquitous lack of white coats helped empower teammates, and most importantly, patients by mitigating social barriers to transparent communication.

The rotation also oriented me to the health care system of Australia. Australia provides universal access to a comprehensive range of clinical services, primarily funded through general taxation. “Medicare” is the term used when referring to the universal access to public hospitals and subsidized medical care. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Australian life expectancy is ranked higher than that of the United States, which suggests that Australia’s health care indicators are robust.

Considering an International Rotation?

Students applying for international rotations should plan ahead to achieve a fulfilling experience. Applicants should highlight pertinent leadership, professional, and volunteer experiences in their application. Accepted students should complete site requirements, such as blood testing, immunization records, background check, VISA application, and housing plan, several weeks in advance, as instructed by the preceptor. Lastly, I recommend that you consult with the UMB Center for Global Education Initiatives for International SOS travel assistance registration and financial aid resources.

An Experience to Remember

I believe that all students can benefit from participating in an international rotation, as the experience will help you develop new, informed perspectives in global health. Through my experience, I learned a lot about how pharmacists can engage with both patients and other health care professionals as part of a specialized interprofessional renal transplant team. Ultimately, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to represent the School of Pharmacy on an international rotation.

66 Comments

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  • Dear Mudit,
    I am delighted with your continuing engagement with Interprofessional global health experiences. Keep up the good work 🙂 
    Dr. Rambob

    • Thank you so much Dr. Rambob, your mentorship will always motivate me to broaden my horizons and strive for excellence.

      I will surely keep in touch and best wishes for the new year!

      Mudit

  • Mudit, loved hearing about your rotation abroad. Particularly insightful comments regarding the role of the white coat and how, in the U.S., it may widen the gap between patients and health care providers. Never thought about it this way. Guess it takes going to another system and seeing how they do it to gain such insights. Your post was particularly effective in helping us at home learn!

    Much love 🙂
    Bilal

    • Thank you so much Bilal, that means a lot. I am always inspired to see the cool innovative things you do and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Keep on doing your thing!

  • Dear Mudit,

    Very happy to hear about your achievements. It looks like you have gained an ensemble of various experiences during your trip. Keep up the strides. I look forward to reading about your future endeavors.

    Good luck and best wishes for your bright future ahead,
    Anu Puri

  • Hi Mudit,

    Thank you for sharing this with me. I am glad that you had a good opportunity to learn and practice pharmacy. It’s inspiring to learn about the different health care system in Australia. Keep up the good work!

    Best,

    Markos

  • Really well explained Mudit and it is really interesting that your profession doesn’t wear white coats in other countries; it makes totally sense! You’re going to do so well.

  • Dear Mudit,

    I’m glad to hear you that you had such an enriching experience in Australia. I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Your experiences abroad will be very beneficial for your career.

    Pramod Srivastava

  • Hey Mudit, it sounds like you had a really awesome experience in Australia! Your insights on the health care system in Australia are really interesting–I had no idea health care professionals in other countries don’t wear white coats, and I never considered the communication barriers white coats create. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

  • Great to See your comments!!
    It seems your visit to The Royal Melbourne Hospital was a wonderful experience and exposure.
    Good luck in all your endeavors..

  • Hi Mudit,

    Congratulations for completing the international rotational successfully. It looks you have enjoyed the rotation overseas. Nicely written. The path will guide you for the completion of your pharmacy course.

    Good luck

    Naveen

  • Insightful post and congrats on your achievements! Learned quite a lot about Australian healthcare systems, and it is interesting no one wears white coats.

    It was nice to meet you in person and good luck in your endeavors!

  • Hi Mudit,

    Sounds like you had an awesome experience. I like your point about white coats. In fact, I was helping someone do research on white coat hypertension and I agree with what you said.

    Manik

  • Dear mudit
    Congratulations for your accomplishments. International experience is always good and it expand horizon of the person.
    Your nana is very proud of you.
    Lot of love and blessings from us.
    Nana from calif.
    Come visit us some time.

  • Excellent piece! International rotations are few to start with and very difficult to get. Bodes well
    for residency in transplantation! Moreover, you could share ideas from your rotation for a better
    working environment!

  • Congratulations and thanks Mudit for sharing your experiences. This should inspire and motivate other Pharmacy students to take up international rotations. This experience is precious and should shape your professional career. Good luck

  • Very good, Mudit! Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences! I have seen you grow as a little boy and am so proud of you. Keep it up and my best wishes to you as a professional pharmacist.

  • Dear Mudit Verma
    Greta job, great experience and great inspiration to others. We are very proud of you for your dedication, hard work, commitment, and generosity and a perfect example for others to follow. Keep going great job and God will always bless you with all your dreams come true.

  • Hi Mudit,
    Great to hear about your experiences and very well written with lots of information. We wish you good luck with all your future plans.

    Best wishes,
    Smita Ashwin

  • Dear Mudit
    Thanks for sharing your exciting experience in Australia and giving us an insight into the Australian healthcare system. It is interesting point about the white coats which I agree perhaps creates a social barrier for free communication. Wonderful of you to have considered a clinical internship abroad. I also suggest you try some experience in UK/Europe as well to the extent possible. Clinical Pharmacy practice has significant differences globally as you might be aware. Wishing you the very best.
    Prasad

  • Excellent Report,I enjoyed reading your experience in Australia!!Feeling very proud of the little kid that I knew from Germantown is now a professional Pharmacist!!Regarding white coats and scrubs that is a must in US is a practice not so popular in the British Commonwealth countries,while as a medical student in India we were required to wear white coats during rotations,none of our Professors both Surgeons and Internal Medicine doctors used to wear white coats,they were always neatly dressed up in suit and tie!!!best of luck in your future endeavors.

  • Hey Mudit

    Interesting point about the non-white coat wearing practice and also good perspective of seeing patients as partners in their healthcare.

  • Interesting take on your international rotation! I’m sure your shared experiences not just about the professional side of your rotation but also the inter-personal experience you had will be helpful to those considering a rotation overseas.

  • Dear Mudit,
    Very informative blog! Learned so much about Australian health care system especially about the white coats pattern over there. It seems that you had wonderful experience @ Melbourne. Surely and certainly, pharmacy plays a major role in patient’s treatment and you would be a good example, keep it up!
    We are proud of you and your accomplishments …………
    All the best for your future endeavors.
    Rajeev Gautam

  • Hi Mudit,

    Great to hear about your experiences and I wish you good luck with all your future ventures.

    I am sure it will help many candidates in their planning.

    Best
    Aarti

  • Hi Mudit,
    Very educational and informative experience in charting pathway for academic and professional career development opportunities in biopharmaceutical sciences. It is very helpful in providing advice, guidance and step-wise manual in exploring international options and resources for the cadre of budding next generation biomedical scientists pursuing careers in pharmaceutical sciences. We wish you continued success in your career endeavors and sharing this invaluable information with your peers.

  • Dear Mudit,

    I am happy to learn that you had an excellent opportunity to work at a prestigious teaching hospital in Australia and am sure that you had an amazing experience. This is the one of the first learning step for you to the real world by meeting great mentors, nurses, physicians and most importantly the patients who will rely on you on a daily basis. Please remember that you have a moral responsibility to help your patients from diverse sections of society and they will count on you.

    I wish you all the best for your future plans and hope to learn more about your experience in near future.

    Good Luck and best wishes for your final year in School of Pharmacy!!

  • Looks like it is a rich experience, and him providing the ‘modus operandi’ for the international rotation – so that future students will have better appreciation and understanding about inner workings of the healthcare continuum- is very thoughtful.

  • Hi Mudit,

    Thank you for sharing your blog with me. Very nice overview. I am very proud of you. Your inspiration and guidance will help my son.

    All the best,

    Rajeev

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