Colleges of pharmacy, medicine collaborate with Costa Rican university

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An agreement between The Universidad de Ciencias Médicas, San José of Costa Rica and the UA colleges of pharmacy and medicine will facilitate a learning partnership between two of the western hemisphere’s premier healthcare educational systems.

Michael Katz, associate professor and director of international education for the College of Pharmacy, helped broker the agreement with the Costa Rican university.

“The intent of this collaboration is to share best educational practices of the two institutions’ colleges of pharmacy and medicine,” says Katz. “I believe there is great potential for our two universities to develop a strong relationship.”

University of Arizona president Robert Shelton signed an International Memorandum of Agreement Sept. 15, 2010, formalizing a partnership between The Universidad de Ciencias Médicas and the UA colleges.

The agreement will facilitate, among other endeavors, short-term visits (rotations) of pharmacy and medical students and educators from The Universidad de Ciencias Médicas to the University of Arizona, and visits by UA faculty to the Costa Rican university.

A delegation of representatives from The Universidad de Ciencias Médicas visited UA in the fall of 2010 to participate in the agreement signing and to tour the university and Arizona. The visiting delegates were Pablo Guzman, rector; Ivette Fonseca, pharmacy dean; Andres Guzman, pharmacy faculty; and Maria Garcia, director of research and international affairs.

Highlights of the group’s visit included a tour of University Medical Center, a visit to the proteomics core in BIO5, a presentation by pharmacy professor Christopher Hulme on drug discovery and development, meetings with many faculty members and administrators, and an opportunity to interact with the teaching mannequins in the Simulation Technology and Education Center at the College of Medicine.  And like most tourists to Arizona, the group made a trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, too.

Oscar Beita, associate director of the Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs for the College of Medicine, says, "This agreement facilitates communication, collaboration, and the development of joint projects between faculty and students from both institutions.”

“For UA medical students, The Universidad de Ciencias Médica opens the door to rotations in the primary care clinics and teaching hospitals of one of the best healthcare systems in Latin America. It is internationally recognized for its emphasis on primary care; low infant and maternal mortality; long life expectancy; and for providing health insurance to all its citizens."

The agreement sets up a framework to allow the exchange of faculty, scholars and other research and technical, educational or administrative specialists for short-term and longer-term visits; short-term visits by pharmacy and medical students; the design of collaborative research projects, including the development of formal proposals for funding such research; and the design of academic meetings of mutual interest, including seminars focused on specific topics.