Learning about pharmacy in Germany
By Sharon Gray
Johanna Goebel finished her last semester in the School of Pharmacy by completing two six week clinical rotations as part of her required structured practice experience. The second of these rotations took place in Germany. This marks the first time any Memorial pharmacy student has completed part of their education in Germany and has opened the door to future exchanges between MUN and the School of Pharmacy at the University of Bonn.
This opportunity began with a casual conversation between Dr. John Hawboldt, a clinical faculty member in the School of Pharmacy, and Manfred Krüger, a clinical pharmacist in Germany. Both men were on tour in the Baltic countries and happened to meet on a long bus ride between the two cities. It was on this bus ride that they discovered their common career interests and decided to get their universities connected.
Ms. Goebel was the logical student to start things off since she was the only pharmacy student at Memorial with a good working knowledge of German. Her father is German and between some experience talking with her grandmother in German and seven university-level courses in German, she felt prepared to do a clinical location in another country and another language.
“At first I had a few problems with the language barrier but I picked it up pretty fast,” she said.
Based in Krefeld, a small city located in western Germany near the border with Holland, Ms. Goebel spent four weeks in a community pharmacy then a week working in the mornings in a hospital pharmacy in the Intensive Care Unit. The final two weeks were spent at the University of Bonn.
“I found the experience in the community pharmacy very different from the way pharmacy is practiced in Canada,” she said. “Patients in Germany use a lot of herbal products and the pharmacist recommends the use of teas, herbal medications and homeotherapy. Pharmacy students learn that in their university training whereas in Canada it’s a subject that is just starting to be introduced.”
Ms. Goebel said another difference between pharmacy training in Germany and Canada is the amount of clinical experience students obtain. In Canada, almost all pharmacy students continue into clinical practice, thus providing clinical practice opportunities is of paramount importance in the curriculum. But in Germany, clinical pharmacy is not yet well-established so students have a much more basic science education.
As part of her clinical rotation, she worked with Dr. Ulrich Jaehde, a professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Bonn. In this capacity, she assisted in the development of a pharmaceutical care-based curriculum, a phenomenon new to Germany. As Ms. Goebel already had both numerous academic and professional pharmaceutical care experiences at MUN, it was a delightful and interesting opportunity to assist in the German curriculum. Both Dr. Jaehde and his colleagues were impressed by the skills and knowledge base she was able to offer and also by the level of education the School of Pharmacy at MUN provided. As a result of this interaction Dr. Jaehde has established a professional relationship with Dr. Hawboldt in which they hope to establish a student exchange program.
Dr. Hawboldt said it is also the hope of the School of Pharmacy that a liaison can occur between the School and the Department of German and Russian languages to facilitate further learning experiences.