Applying a Global Lens to Pharmacy Studies
Written By: Scott J. Riley II, PhD, instructor and MS internship coordinator in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC)
Featured image: The GLOBALtimore cohort visiting Hospital San Vito “Juana Pirola” in Costa Rica. School of Pharmacy faculty on the trip included Scott Riley (standing, second from right), Emily Heil (fifth from left), and Danya Qato (second from left).
I remember how curious I was when I first saw the email titled “UMB/Costa Rica Faculty Development Institute (2023).”
Being an instructor with only a few years’ experience, I always jump at the opportunity to participate in workshops and trainings that focus on teaching. As I read through the email, I could feel a small spark of excitement. UMB’s Center for Global Engagement (CGE) was offering a five-day faculty development opportunity in Costa Rica. While there, the facilitators would work with faculty from different schools to develop projects centered around global learning. Soon, my mind was racing with ways to incorporate global learning into pharmaceutical sciences (PSC) and began to cultivate ideas combining my passions of data analytics and PSC.
My proposal became a data analytics module that would have students investigate secondary factors that affect the correlation between life expectancy and income. Initially students would be shown a graph of life expectancy vs. income with each data point representing a different country. After a discussion, students would be charged with investigating institutions of a specific country (government, health care, tradition/culture) to discover what affect they could have. My goal with the module was to develop students’ global identity and broaden their perspectives.
When I looked at the 11-member list of the fourth GLOBALtimore, I was thrilled to see that the cohort included Emily Heil, PharmD, MS, BCIDP, AAHIVP, associate professor in the Department of Practice, Science, and Health Outcomes Research (P-SHOR), and Danya Qato, PhD, PharmD, MPH, associate professor of P-SHOR and graduate program director of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research. Going with colleagues from the School of Pharmacy made the trip seem less intimidating.
Before we left for Costa Rica, the entire cohort participated in a workshop, where we introduced our projects and met Carlos Faerron Guzmán, MD, MSc, associate professor of global health in the UMB Graduate School, director of the InterAmerican Center for Global Health in Costa Rica, and our lead facilitator. For hours, our cohort was full of ideas, discussions, feedback, and goals. By the end of the day, I knew we would accomplish great things in Costa Rica.
I was right!
We spent eight days together traveling and tackling an ambitious agenda of workshops, site visits, group work, and time for reflections. One highlight was a visit to Hospital San Vito “Juana Pirola.” We heard doctors describe the process of setting up delivery rooms for the local indigenous populations and how learning about their traditions and cultural expectations led to changes that created better health outcomes. This experience instilled in me how important it is for global perspectives to be included in health care education.
My favorite experience, however, was visiting the home of Dr. Pablo Ortiz in San Vito. Dr. Ortiz, a nationally recognized leader and lifelong teacher, has worked with indigenous populations and government entities to improve health outcomes for marginalized groups. During our visit, we got to sit, drink, eat, and talk about his experiences in global learning. We learned so much about his successes and failures over the many years of his career.
Being so far from Baltimore transformed my brain into a sponge. There were so many things to see and do. I had to take in as much as possible. The facilitators saw this and utilized it to lead complex discussions on inclusive learning environments and the effects of cultural exchange on student’s global perspectives. This immersion in the content and culture of a different country created a perpetual cycle of learning, discussions, and growth.
I want to thank everyone at the CGE who made this trip possible, including Dr. Faerron Guzmán and Amy Ramirez, MA, executive director of global learning and international services. I know my UMSOP colleagues and I can’t wait to implement what we learned into our daily work. I plan to incorporate global student learning outcomes and strategic pedagogies from the workshops into my own teaching, and I also intend to continue with proposed collaborations focused on inter-school projects.
So, if you receive an email with Global Learning in the title, I encourage you to open it. You never know what you might discover.