Giving help, gaining experience through interprofessional medical mission trip to Armenia

Our faculty, staff and students take advantage of many opportunities for service locally, regionally and abroad. Dr. Asima Ali, clinical assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice, Lina Poindexter (’20 PharmD Candidate) and Savanna Scott (’21 PharmD Candidate) were part of an interprofessional medical mission trip to Armenia. Here is their story.


From June 14 to 28, the School of Osteopathic Medicine and the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences partnered together for a successful interprofessional mission trip to Armenia. The team served more than 350 patients in eight different mobile clinics throughout the entire country. The team consisted of one pharmacist (Dr. Asima Ali), two physicians (Drs. Victoria Kaprielian and Charlotte Paolini),  two pharmacy students (Lina Poindexter and Savannah Scott) and six medical students (Gabriel Broztman, Andrew James, Amy Medford, Jessica Simmons, Jennifer Stoltenberg, and Brittany Williams).

There were multiple team meetings prior to departure where information regarding mission trips, Armenian culture/language, and medications were reviewed. The pharmacy team created drug information resources as well as a medication order list. This list was used to order medications in Armenia as well as identify medications to be taken by the team.

Once the team arrived in Armenia, a medication inventory was created, based on what medications were received, and medications were packed by all during a “packing party”. These medications were then transported from clinic to clinic which were often held in church sanctuaries. All students rotated around the main stations of Intake, Physician-led teams, and the Pharmacy.

This rotation allowed for rich interprofessional education and collaboration as pharmacy students learned about building a differential and the medical students learned about counseling patients regarding their medications. Often the pharmacy team would be consulted regarding alternatives regarding treatment of chronic disease states (i.e. pain, hypertension, gastrointestinal reflux disease) as well as infections.

When asked what she learned from the trip Savannah Scott replied, “I did not realize how much clinical skills I would gain from the experience. The trip helped me utilize my knowledge learned in the classroom into real life practice. Not only was I able to learn from our pharmacy faculty, Dr. Ali, I was able to sit in with physicians and interview patients with the medical students. The trip taught me about interprofessionalism by being able to work with translators and people in different healthcare fields. For example, DO students and physicians would ask the pharmacy different questions to further provide the best patient care. We poured our hearts and souls into providing the best care possible to the people of Armenia. This experience has sparked a passion for me to continue pursuing global health upon graduation from pharmacy school.”

When asked to reflect on the trip, Lina Poindexter commented, “The entire experience gave me an immense appreciation for not only Armenian culture and language, but also for collaborations with local team members including pastors and translators. By the end of the trip I felt comfortable in counseling patients in ‘Pharmacy Armenian’. Because each clinic was in a different town, the team had the opportunity to experience the vast beauty and variety of the terrain. One day we were in fields of red poppies on a mountain and the next we were in a sweltering rocky desert. It truly was an experience we will never forget!”