North Carolina calling: five minutes with our international partners

It’s a spring day in Parkville, most of the students are in t-shirts and shorts, determinedly pretending it’s already a sunny January day.

But five students are clustered together holding cups of hot coffee, wearing cardigans, a puffer jacket and even a wool vest.

“This is still cold! I don’t know how you guys do it!” comments UNC student Jesse Martin, who’s bundled up in a warm cardigan.

The five students are from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, a PharmAlliance partner. They have made the trip around the globe to spend a month here. UNC offers a one-month international rotation at one of a number of pharmacy schools around the world, giving students the chance to develop a better understanding of how different healthcare systems work.

Left to Right: Jesse Martin, Nic McGuire, Patrick Karunwune, Patrick Xu and Tanner Trantham

“We’re all going into different areas of pharmacy. There’s so much value in seeing how pharmacy is practiced all over the world,” says Patrick Kurunwune.

“The way we practice can really be impacted by our placement experiences and travels. We can bring home what we have been learning at Monash University and in the Alfred Hospital,” he adds.

So why Melbourne? The students - Jesse, Patrick, Nic McGuire, Jimmy Xu and Tanner Trantham - had choices from nine different institutions, including locations such as Cairo, Honduras and Tokyo.

“Australia offered clinical opportunities, research expertise and academic skill building, which really incentivised me to put it at the top of my preference list,” says Tanner.

“As healthcare systems around the world change and in some countries becomes increasingly expensive, it’s important for us, as the pharmacists of the future, to understand how pharmacy and medicine is practiced in a country where there are few to no financial barriers for care,” he says

The students have spent two weeks doing ward rotations at the Alfred Hospital as well as community pharmacy rotations. The idea is that they gain an in-depth understanding of different practice models.

“Industries as a whole are global. And if we think about healthcare, we have so many opportunities to perform better and improve our own approach only through exposure to other models,” says Nic.

“Talking to pharmacists at the Alfred Hospital, they have such a pure passion for patient care and are so empowered to provide a high level of care. That is really inspirational and something we can take back and embed into our careers,” he adds.

The one month is flying by for the five students and when we ask them for their highlights of their rotation, the answers are instantaneous.

“We got to feed kangaroos! That was pretty cool. And the diversity here in Melbourne, in the cuisine, culture and community has been a unique experience,” says Jesse.

“Definitely learning about the Tim Tam Slam I think. I’m taking all the Tim Tams back with me!” finishes Patrick.