WHY GO ON A PHARMACY ELECTIVE ABROAD?
Our pharmacy placements abroad present you with the opportunity to get clinical experience in an under-resourced, but fast-paced hospital in the developing world.
You can also tailor your placement such that you spend time where your interests lie, like main hospital pharmacies or more specialised satellite pharmacies in departments like oncology or A&E.
The systems, the patients — even some of the drugs themselves may be totally unfamiliar to you.
On a pharmacy elective abroad, you could learn how stock is ordered and managed without the aid of digital systems, see unfamiliar (sometimes unbranded) drugs, and find out what happens during drug shortages.
THE CLINICAL EXPERIENCE
While overseas, you'll quickly realise that we take things for granted in the UK. For example, in some of our destinations where healthcare isn’t free, a £30 bottle of Albumin is the equivalent of up to one fifth of the local monthly salary.
Some things you might observe include:
- Massive over-prescription of antibiotics by UK standards
- Unusual stock including snake and insect anti-venoms
- Breaking of capsules and crushing of tablets
- Traditional herbal medicinde
You will also see major differences in the fundamentals of pharmacy too. For example, many of our destinations have inpatient pharmacies where patients’ family members have to pay for drugs and then hand-deliver them to the patient.
Your hospital placement runs Monday to Friday, leaving your evenings and weekends free to explore the destination you’ve chosen.
The service you get with us is start to finish — we will support you before, during, and even after your trip.
The service covers every aspect of planning, and it removes all the stress from undertaking something as involved as a pharmacy placement abroad.
With us, you’ll get:
A tailored pharmacy elective in your choice of departments | Comprehensive pre-trip preparation | 24/7 in-country support team | Private, catered accommodation | Airport pickup
Arrivals are every Sunday (all year round), so you can travel whenever suits you. The minimum placement duration is two weeks.
For a more detailed step-by-step guide to how our service works, click here.
Your clinical placement takes precedence on this trip. But — whether you prefer solo or group travel — weekend trips will be a massive highlight.
From trekking through the Himalayas to rafting down the Zambezi, you have plenty of opportunity for adventure, immersing yourself in your host culture as you go.
WHERE DO I START?
Talk to us and we’ll answer all your questions about our pharmacy opportunities abroad, help you narrow in on a destination, and secure your place when you’re ready.
Get in touch using the short enquiry form.
Vietnam - Hue
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On your pharmacy placement in Hue, you’ll see the impact poor funding has on the quality of care patients receive. Many drugs have limited supplies, while others are totally unobtainable. The local pharmacists have to rely on dispensing lesser alternatives or nothing at all. This has an obvious impact on patients. You can also learn about traditional Vietnamese medicine and how it complements modern practises. Areas you can choose to get experience in include the renal pharmacy, the oncology department’s CRU pharmacy, the OPD pharmacy, inpatient department pharmacy, and the drug stores.
Zambia - Lusaka
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On your pharmacy placement in Lusaka, you’ll quickly learn that access to certain medicines is limited. Add to that the low staff numbers and you’ll see a considerable negative impact on the care specialists are able to provide. You’ll check scripts, go on clinical rounds and spend time in dispensaries all over the hospital site. The site comprises separate hospitals, and you’ll visit dispensaries in paediatrics, adult, mother and newborn, and surgery.
Cambodia - Phnom Penh
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On a pharmacy elective placement in Phnom Penh you’ll come to understand challenges local staff face when delivering healthcare in a low resource setting. Nurses are responsible for dispensing medicines for inpatients here. You’ll accompany them on ward rounds, learning about each patient’s treatment plans as you go. Where outpatients are concerned you’ll spend time with local pharmacists, dispensing and offering advice to patients. The main pharmacy is stocked by several on-site storage facilities. You can tour these stockrooms, learning how the local system works and about drugs you might have never seen before. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Phnom Penh.
Ghana - Takoradi
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On your pharmacy placement in Takoradi, you get to spend time with local professionals, shadowing them on ward rounds. You’ll evaluate histories, strengthen treatment plans and highlight possible side effects as you go. You’ll spend time in departments like surgery, paediatrics, and the HIV clinic too. If you spend time in the dispensary, and we encourage you to do so, you’ll see just how limited resources are in this area. But there are other areas too. The diabetes and hypertension clinic, the main lab, A&E, the herbal medicine clinic… you name it. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.
Sri Lanka - Anuradhapura
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As pharmacy student in Anuradhapura, you can spend time in a range of pharmacies across the hospital from oncology to surgical. You can assist in preparing lotions, solutions, and ointments for inpatients, and gain an understanding of how stock levels are managed. You might also choose to assist with reconstituting chemotherapy drugs. This whole placement gives you a really broad experience. Your time here will highlight how local specialists have to rely on their creativity to combat the lack of resources they face. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Anuradhapura.
Peru - Arequipa
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Satellite pharmacies serve the different departments in our department hospital. You can spend time in dispensaries in internal medicine, oncology, and surgery among others. Hundreds of prescriptions are processed here every day. The hospital has a focus on oncology. That means you might even assist in the ‘clean room’. Cytostatic medications are reconstituted and sterilised here, ready for use on patients. If it interests you, you also can go on ward rounds, and spend time in the internal medicine department, offering a fascinating pharmacy placement abroad. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa.
Nepal - Pokhara
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On your pharmacy elective placement here, you can spend time in a dispensaries stocked with medicines you won’t be familiar with. These include anti-venoms for tropical insect and snake bites. There are two main dispensaries here. One services inpatients, the other services outpatient prescriptions. Get into the pharmacovigilance unit and see how local specialists detect, assess, and prevent side effects associated with the drugs they prescribe. Joining ward rounds is also possible. You’ll shadow doctors and learn about treatment plans with them. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.
Nepal - Kathmandu
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Part of a pharmacist's role in our partner hospital is to explaining prescription drugs to patients. What are the side effects? Who can and can't take them? Joining ward rounds with local specialists gives you insights like this. You’ll learn the broader role pharmacy plays in the ongoing development of healthcare in Nepal. You can get into the specifics of local practice, spending time in the dispensaries. You’ll also see exactly how local pharmacists use traditional herbal medicines alongside modern drugs. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.
Philippines - Iloilo
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On a pharmacy placement in Iloilo, you’ll rotate through six different outlets. These include satellite pharmacies in A&E, the operating room, neonatal, OBG, and the ‘drive-thru’. There’s a lack of digital equipment right across the hospital. For the pharmacy department (and for you), that means documentation is still written by hand. If you’re interested in learning how conditions like leptospirosis and malaria are medicated, and about how medication plans are generated more generally, you can also go on ward rounds with local doctors. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.
"I learnt the whole process on how to treat patients presenting with snake bites"
Paulina Paksaite, University of Bath 2019Read more
"During the month I spent in Pokhara, I made unforgettable memories with amazing students from all over the world."
Jack Gilbert, Robert Gordon University 2018Read more
"The experience moulded my personal and professional values in ways I couldn’t have imagined."
Matthew Blackmore, University of Lincoln 2018Read more
"It was everything I imagined the experience to be and more."
Cassie Wong, University of Sydney 2018Read more
"I was in an approachable environment with some of the most open-minded and patient-devoted clinicians I’ve ever met."
Seamus Dines-Muntaner, Queensland University of Technology 2018Read more
What is a pharmacy elective?
A pharmacy elective is a clinical placement that pharmacy students undertake as part of their degree. Every year, more and more pharmacy students are doing their pharmacy electives overseas. To create your own customised pharmacy elective, get in touch with us today.
How long is a pharmacy elective?
A pharmacy elective is as long as you want it to be. Our minimum placement duration is 2 weeks, but students typically travel on their pharmacy electives for 4 weeks. There is no upper limit to how long you can travel for.
What are the most popular countries for pharmacy electives?
Our most popular countries for pharmacy electives are (in no particular order):
6. The Philippines
8. Sri Lanka
What are the benefits of a pharmacy elective?
The benefits of a pharmacy elective include:
- Expanding your clinical knowledge and skill set
- Becoming more confident, independent and resourceful
- Making yourself more attractive to employers
- Doing some proper travelling
- Building your personal and professional network
- Sharpening your language and communication skills
- Renewing your perspective on the NHS
What will I see on an overseas pharmacy elective?
You will see things like:
- Reconstitution of chemotherapy drugs
- Patients’ families purchasing and delivering medicines
- Traditional herbal medicine integrated into local healthcare systems
- Medication for conditions malaria and leprosy
- Manual (pen and paper) stock systems