UW News

August 21, 2008

Tuscany provides backdrop for pharmacy education

By Melinda Young
School of Pharmacy

Later this month, a group of UW School of Pharmacy faculty and staff and practicing Washington pharmacists will travel through the Tuscan region of Italy to learn about global practices in pharmacy.

In a continuing education program titled The Art of Health, Life and Well-Being: A Tuscan Exploration of Health Care, participants will spend a week in and near the village of Montisi, Italy, meeting with Italian pharmacy experts.

Peers from the Facolta di Farmacia at the University of Perugia — a Seattle sister city institution — and pharmacists from the region will share their insight about how best to serve patients in the United States and abroad. Participants also have the opportunity to tour health care-related sites such as a pharmacy museum in Sansepolcro, where they will get a historical and present-day survey of the use and cultivation of medicinal herbs.

Karan Dawson, director of the School of Pharmacy’s continuing pharmacy education program, hopes that by exploring a different culture and system of health care, attendees will be inspired to think creatively about U.S. pharmacy practice. For instance, Dawson said, Italy has a national health care system that U.S. pharmacists can learn from as they prepare for potential universal coverage options in the future.

“The ultimate goal of this trip,” she said, “is to help practitioners think about how to improve patient care in the United States.”

Professor Don Downing, clinical professor in the Department of Pharmacy, and Dawson will lead a joint session with Italian pharmacists and University of Perugia faculty about preventative practices and the pharmacist’s role in public health. They will discuss everything from smoking cessation to reproductive health care.

Dawson hopes this experience will lay the foundation for the School of Pharmacy to develop joint research and education opportunities with the faculty at the University of Perugia. Such a collaboration would align with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s recent push for member institutions to ramp up their global education efforts.