Fulbright scholars come to COP
One of our scholars is a long way from home. Lorenzo Villa, a clinical pharmacist from Chile, is attending the College of Pharmacy as part of the Fulbright Program.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program provides participants chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Lorenzo Villa works at the University of Concepcion’s Hospital in Chile as a clinical pharmacist. It takes six years to get a pharmacy degree in Chile. During the fifth year, students do their rotations, and in the sixth year they specialize in a particular pharmacy practice. More than two years ago Villa’s department head asked if he would be willing to go to the U.S. and study pharmacoeconomics and patient-reported outcomes. Now Villa is here pursuing a PhD degree in pharmaceutical economics, policy and outcomes.
“In Chile there is a big interest in pharmaceutical economics because our health care is provided by the government and they are interested in how they can ensure that the money set aside for health care is spent wisely,” Villa explains.
Coming to the U. S. to study was no easy endeavor for Villa. He couldn’t speak English when he arrived. After an eight-month English course at the University of Arizona, Villa was ready to begin his PhD studies. He arrived here in January of 2010, and will return to Chile in August of 2014. Upon completion of his education, Villa will return to Chile and help apply the concepts of pharmaceutical economics at the hospital where he works, and also develop a new instructional tract at the university.
Natia Kvizhinadze is a Fulbright Scholar who recently returned home from the University of Arizona. Kvizhinadze is from the Eastern European country of Georgia, where she is a professor in the social and clinical pharmacy department at Tbilisi State Medical University. She is the first Fulbright Scholar from her country. She arrived at the University of Arizona in March of 2012 and went back to Georgia in mid-September. Her degree is a PhD, which is what pharmacists get in Georgia, and it is a research degree. When the Soviets left, the entire infrastructure of Georgia had to be built from the ground up. Everything related to pharmacy had to be created from scratch: new pharmacy laws, new discovery laws, new approval laws and the like.
“The activity of pharmacies in Georgia is quite different than in the United States. We have authorized pharmacies where you can buy medicines without prescriptions. The prescription system does not exist in Georgia any more. You can buy any kind of medicine without a prescription with the exception of narcotics and psychotropics,” Kvizhinadze explains.
Kvizhinadze was here to get a handle on U.S. drug law so she could take the knowledge back home with her. She looks forward to the day when pharmacists in Georgia are working on the clinical aspects of their field, rather than being more like sales clerks.
“After returning to my country I would like to implement new curricula…It is extremely new and very important for the future development of the vision in pharmacy,” says Kvizhinadze.
Terri Warholak, assistant professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, is mentoring Villa and worked closely with Kvizhinadze while she was at the college.
For more information about the Fulbright Scholar Program, contact Dale LaFleur in the Office of Global Initiatives at the University of Arizona, or call 520-621-3306.
Story by Larry Hogan and Rebecca Wingate