Student Pharmacists Experience Research, Culture during Summer Abroad

Pharmacy organization's program allows Ole Miss students to gain global pharmacy knowledge

Harshin Sanjanwala (front), a second-year student pharmacist at UM, gathers with along with his labmates working on diabetes drug research during his time at China Medical University over the summer. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Summer is a great time to travel, and two University of Mississippi pharmacy students combined adventure and pharmacy after their selection to the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation Student Exchange Program through the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists.

Second-year student pharmacists Harshin Sanjanwala and Sophie Durham spent part of their summer in Taiwan and Hungary, respectively, where they each received new research opportunities and insight to foreign cultures.

“My time in Taiwan was absolutely phenomenal,” Sanjanwala said. “It gave me international friendships and a research experience like no other, and I am incredibly thankful to have received help from my friends, family and the School of Pharmacy during the application process.”

Sanjanwala, a native of Madison, spent a majority of his time doing research at China Medical University. The student body president-elect concentrated on diabetes drug research while learning about the differences between western and Chinese medicine from hospital tours and conversations with other students.

“By contrast, it was a great feeling to identify particular drugs that are used across every border,” Sanjanwala said. “We truly are in an interconnected world with the unified goal of improving patient outcomes across the globe.”

UM pharmacy student Sophie Durham takes in the sights of Hungarian towns such as Lake Balaton and Budapset during time away from the research laboratories this summer. Submitted photo

Durham, from Germantown, Tennessee, worked with the Pharmaceutical Technology Department at Semmelweis University. Durham rotated between three labs that focused on modified release dosage forms, preparing parenteral solutions and equipment that developed and produced drugs.

“This rotation allowed me to gain a broad overview of the pharmaceutical technology department and work with pharmacy students from around the world,” Durham said. “It was interesting to see the concepts we discussed in pharmaceutics and calculations classes in practice and to learn about values that are important in Hungarian pharmacies.”

It’s not all work and no play for student exchange participants. Both students took in the culture that each country had to offer. Sanjanwala explored the city of Taichung and took a train to visit the Alishan Mountains in Chiayi, Taiwan.

Durham spent weekends in towns such as Lake Balaton, a popular Hungarian summer destination. She also toured Budapest, which included a stop at her favorite place, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.

Sanjanwala and Durham both counted the people they met as the best parts of their travels. Durham, who serves as the local exchange officer for the school’s APhA-ASP chapter, learned about the schools, beliefs and traditions of other countries while gaining lifelong friendships.

“I would encourage student pharmacists interested in traveling, pharmacy and adventure to apply for the Student Exchange Program,” Durham said. “I could not have asked for a better experience.

“I learned the importance of clear communication and adaptability, which are skills that I can employ in my future pharmacy practice.”