Medical Mission Provides Transformative Experience for Pharmacy Students

February 1, 2024

Two students and two faculty members from the Wegmans School of Pharmacy recently traveled to Pune, India to engage in the School’s annual medical mission with the India Connection, a nonprofit in partnership with Koinonia Ministry.

The Wegmans School of Pharmacy team at the medical camp in India.

The organization, which provides medical outreach and oversees a girls home, international school, and churches, has hosted a health care camp with the School of Pharmacy since 2009. Members of the School have volunteered as part of the medical camp regularly since its inception.

This year, Dr. Christine Birnie, dean of the School; Dr. Juliette Miller, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration; Bryan Horne, a fourth-year campus pathway student; and Bailey Walker; a first-year online pathway student represented Fisher. They were part of a 15-member team that also included a physician, dental hygienist, audiologist, and other individuals from the Rochester community.

While in India, the team saw more than 400 patients in Pune City over the course of several days. They also staffed a separate camp in partnership with a mission hospital in Daund, a rural town two hours outside of the city, seeing an additional 400 to 500 patients there.

“At the Daund Medical Camp, people were waiting four or five hours in line to be seen - it was incredibly humbling,” said Horne, who was able to use the trip to complete one of his APPE rotations, a requirement for all fourth-year pharmacy students.

At the camps, pharmacy students provided preventative care including screenings for blood pressure and diabetes and helped counsel patients on prescriptions. Members of the health care team also provided primary medical care, hearing screenings, vision exams, and dental care, including teeth cleaning, health education on the risks of using chewing tobacco, and the importance of dental hygiene. The camp also distributed hundreds of reading glasses to patients.

“Participating in a medical mission trip to India as a pharmacy student provided me with invaluable hands-on experience in diverse health care settings, fostering my ability to adapt to challenging environments and work effectively within multidisciplinary teams,” Horne said. “This transformative experience deepened my clinical skills and heightened my cultural competency, ultimately shaping me into a more compassionate and globally aware health care professional.”

While in Pune, the team also visited the Dr. D.Y. Patil Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, touring the campus and delivering a presentation on the rotation experience for students in U.S. pharmacy schools. Fisher has an official MOU with D.Y. Patil, and has partnered with the School for more than seven years. The University is looking to expand its partnership by inviting students from Pune to engage in clinical rotations in Rochester, and increasing the number of students from D.Y. Patil that volunteer at the clinic each year.