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Student pharmacists serving in Arizona

Student Pharmacists Serving Native American Communities

by Natalia Kirychuk, Student Public Relations Writer

During their time at Cedarville University, professional pharmacy students are required to complete a cross-cultural experience. Having a better understanding of a culture is a prerequisite to compassionate health care and effectively communicating the gospel.

Over Cedarville’s spring break, March 2-10, four professional pharmacy students will complete their experience at the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) in Arizona, working with American Indian populations.

Those participating include third-year professional pharmacy student Austin Lail (second from left), and second-year pharmacy students Joshua Pearson (far left above), Matthew Swett (second from right), and Jinho Son (far right).

In fall 2017, several students approached Cynthia Burban, director of community engagement for the school of pharmacy, asking about domestic medical missions opportunities, specifically working with American Indians. Burban initiated communications with Cedarville’s global outreach department to make this request a reality. After reaching out to multiple contacts, advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) preceptors were confirmed last year, and a new partnership had begun.

Joshua Pearson, a second-year professional pharmacy student from Cedarville, Ohio, will serve in Arizona because of an incredible experience job-shadowing at Ute Mountain Ute Health Center in Towaoc, Colorado, a federal health clinic on the Ute Nation reservation. He was offered a grant from Cedarville University to participate in the shadowing experience.

— Austin Lail

Pearson’s goals for the upcoming missions trip include “becoming ‘partners in health’ by taking what I learn from the community about how their traditions shape their health to inform my service efforts in promoting the health and wholeness of their community and observing established health initiatives at the federal health clinic.”

Cedarville pharmacy students will participate in two different missions trips: one over spring break, March 3-8, and another in May. In March, the students will gain experience at several locations serving with TCRHCC’s mobile medical and dental van service, working at immunization clinics, observing clean water accessibility, counseling patients, providing diabetes education and learning about traditional native medicines.

“For this trip we bought our own flights, rented our own car and worked together to figure out housing arrangements. All the team members have come together to help make this trip what they wanted, and I think this will make the experience more enriching for everyone,” said Austin Lail, third-year professional pharmacy student from Hamilton, Ohio. “My biggest goal going to the Navajo reservation is to learn more about and interact with the people there. I hope to return with a greater appreciation for their culture and history and have stories that connect me with them that last a lifetime.”

In addition to the missions trip, three pharmacy students will complete APPE rotations with TCRHCC this summer. Last fall, two 2018 graduates began working in the area, one with TCRHCC and another with Winslow Indian Health Care Center nearby. Another student has already expressed interest in participating in the second missions trip this May.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its doctor of pharmacy program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit .

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