Drake’s College of Pharmacy and Health Science students find immense value in study abroad opportunities. For the past five years, students have presented their globe-trotting research at The Heartland Global Health Consortium—a gathering of several universities and organizations in the central Iowa region, who host an annual symposium with panel discussions and student poster presentations centered around the central theme of global and public health.
“The Heartland Global Health Consortium is an excellent way for students to present research in a safe and comfortable environment,” said Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Pramod Mahajan.
At this year’s consortium, students Emily Spring, Jenna Green and Haley Kelling presented about research performed at the Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in India. Drake has partnered and collaborated with PIMS for the last five years through student and faculty exchanges and research collaboration. Drake has chosen to partner with PIMS because of common research priorities and learning opportunities. Additionally, PIMS is situated in rural India, where agriculture is the main economy, similar to Iowa’s standing as an agricultural state.
Emily Spring, a P4 from Kansas City, Mo., analyzed and examined close to 5,500 cases of cervical cancer in rural India while at PIMS last summer. She presented her findings at the Heartland Global Health Consortium, taking first place in the student poster competition.
“As a pharmacy student, I’m mostly on the treatment side of working with cancer patients,” said Spring. “Researching at PIMS was so useful to me because while I was there I got to see the research side of a cancer diagnosis, which was previously unfamiliar to me, and then what goes on from there to the actual diagnosis and then to the health care providers. I didn’t get to see this side of the process before researching at PIMS; it was a unique and valuable experience.”
Cedar Rapids native Jenna Green, a P1 with a minor in French and an academic concentration in global and public health, studied and presented her research on the prevention and treatment methods of HIV in rural India, and more specifically, what made them effective. Unusually, she didn’t start with any significant data provided to her, so Green decided to base her research on two high-risk HIV communities—homosexual men, and female sex workers.
“Something memorable to me from my experience at PIMS is just coming face to face with public health in a different setting, so I could see how it works,” said Green. “A lot of times in the United States, we think our ways of dealing with public health will work anywhere, but my time at PIMS proved to me that our ways will not always work in every culture.”
Haley Kelling, a senior health sciences major from Bettendorf, Iowa, with a psychology minor and a concentration in behavior analysis of developmental disabilities, presented on her three weeks spent researching the healthcare system at PIMS and how it interacts with the surrounding communities, and also on her spent time researching in the department of physical therapy.
“A lot of what I’ve studied at Drake has been about common healthcare system practices in America, so going to study at PIMS gave me a new perspective on what global healthcare is like,” said Kelling. “We know we have access to healthcare almost 24/7 in Iowa, so seeing what access to healthcare looks like in India was eye-opening to me. Now I look through this lens where not everyone in the world has the same access to healthcare, so I wonder how we can supply even more access to it at home.”
Students interested in studying abroad at PIMS are matched with a preceptor at the institute to research with. Drake students greatly benefit from PIMS as they do not have to start from scratch with research opportunities. For students, it’s just a matter of gathering and analyzing data that has already been generated and recorded.
“The amount of information and medical training students receive from PIMS is of such high quality, students come back here and it’s no surprise they win first prize at The Heartland Global Health Consortium,” said Mahajan.
In January 2017, nine Drake students will visit PIMS and stay there for one month. The nine students, and Mahajan, will stay on campus and live in student housing during the duration of the trip.