USC Pharmacy partners with Armenian school

The USC School of Pharmacy has established a new academic partnership with a medical university in Armenia, continuing a tradition of reaching out to other countries to help improve pharmacy education programs around the world.

USC was selected from a competitive group of applicants to partner with Yerevan State Medical University, a medical school in Armenia. The decision to partner USC with Yerevan State was made by the Competitive Armenian Private Sector Project group, which seeks to ensure that pharmacy education in Armenia will effectively satisfy employer needs.

Michael Wincor, associate dean of globalization and continuing professional development at the School of Pharmacy, visited Armenia in March to pitch his partnership proposal to the CAPS group.

“[Yerevan State] sought out Dr. Wincor to come over and assist them in how to design a Pharm.D. program or at least a clinical program,” said R. Pete Vanderveen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “They are trying to move in the direction of direct patient care.”

Wincor said the partnership will be a good way for USC to play a role in improving pharmacy education.

“The suggestions that we will make will help to improve the education they are receiving there,” Wincor said. “It also will ultimately result in a higher level of clinical pharmacy practice, which will make their careers that much more satisfying.”

Members of CAPS are equally optimistic about the partnership.

“It is anticipated that the academic partnership initiative will eventually bridge the knowledge gap and substantially reduce labor migration,” Anush Shahverdyan, the CAPS workforce development specialist, told the Public Radio of Armenia.

USC faculty will likely be visiting Armenia later this year to work with the professors teaching pharmacy courses, Wincor said. He added that there will also be chances for students to participate in the program.

“Assuming that this relationship becomes relatively longstanding, which we are optimistic about, there will be opportunities for student exchanges.” Wincor said.

He added that several students from the School of Pharmacy have already visited Armenia to learn about the pharmaceutical system there.

Pharmacy students said they are excited about the partnership and eager to participate in the new program.

“It exposes our school to a global audience and helps build our reputation internationally,” said Daniel Szeto, a fourth-year pharmacy student. “I think it’s always good to see how pharmacy is practiced in different areas around the world.”

Wincor said he feels USC was chosen for this partnership largely because of the School of Pharmacy’s prestige, but he added that USC’s history of globalization also helped.

“They recognized that we, both as a school and as an entire university, have a strategic initiative to work with international partners.” Wincor said.

According to Wincor, the School of Pharmacy has started both formal and informal academic exchange agreements with more than 25 worldwide universities, mainly throughout Asia, but reaching across Europe, South America, Australia and Africa as well.

Vanderveen said the school is frequently sought out for help internationally.

“We have opportunities on a monthly basis of schools coming from around the country seeking a partnership,” Vanderveen said. “We don’t have unlimited time, and so we have to be somewhat selective on those. But we do believe in the strategic plan of the university, which is to be global.”

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