International Experiences in Pharmacy: Japan

21 PharmD students from Tucson and Phoenix immersed themselves in Japan’s culture, pharmacy practice and education
"For the entire cohort, it was a chance to see a new side of the pharmacy profession halfway around the world."

Summers are for exploring and new adventures, and 21 College of Pharmacy PharmD students had the chance to add a new destination on their list: Japan. For the fifth year, COP students spent 10 days at Kobe Gakin University in Kobe, Japan as part of an international study abroad experience.

The travelers had various reasons for pursuing this trip. For some, it was an opportunity to meet new people and establish connections overseas. For others, it was a means to immerse themselves in a new cultural setting. For the entire cohort, it was a chance to see a new side of the pharmacy profession halfway around the world.

Michael Katz, PharmD, is no stranger to Japan; he has traveled there more than a hundred times, including as a visiting professor at Kobe Gakin University. As the director for international programs, his goal was to help students gain perspective about the global health care system, pharmacy practice and pharmacy education.


Harrison Taylor, a Phoenix campus student and seasoned Okinawan karate enthusiast, was part of the cohort. “I wanted to learn how the Japanese health care system worked,” he said.

Tucson student Cindy Banh observed that pharmacy education in Japan provided a deeper immersion beginning immediately after high school. “Their studies last six years and rotations are extended over 11 weeks, whereas UA students go for three or six weeks.” Banh was also intrigued by the pace of Japanese pharmacies, where there are limitations on how many prescriptions a pharmacist can fill.

In addition to gaining new professional insight, the trip offered a chance for exploration. Plenty of milk tea and sushi were consumed and students visited the museum and peace park in Hiroshima as well as the Pokémon Center in Osaka.

Students who are interested in visiting Thailand on the 2019 COP trip or Japan on the 2020 COP trip should contact Dr. Katz. “Prepare for very hot weather,” advised Taylor. Banh added, “It’s worth the sweating and sore calves; just be ready to be on the move!”

View photos from the Japan 2018 trip here