American Samoa has just two pharmacists—only one licensed in the United States—to serve 60,000-plus residents from the Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center in Fagaʻalu. So Chief Pharmacist Evelyn Ahhing-Faaiuaso turned to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo for help.
Three faculty members and two third-year students from Hilo’s College of Pharmacy traveled to the U.S. territory to assess the hospital’s pharmacy needs, educate medical staff and encourage island students to pursue pharmacy careers.
The need for pharmacists here is great, especially native-born people who understand the Samoan language and the islands’ traditions, says Ahhing-Faaiuaso. “An affiliation with UH Hilo would bring the current standards of pharmacy practice into our setting.”
Besides offering continuing education classes on topics from diseases prevalent in American Samoa to prevention of medication errors, the UH Hilo professors attended rounds to offer assistance to providers, patients and families.
They are evaluating a potential partnership that would place fourth-year pharmacy students in advanced pharmacy practice rotations at the hospital. Pharmacy students could help expand inpatient services while promoting the profession among secondary and community college students, says Associate Professor Carolyn Ma, director of pharmacy practice experiences.
Awarded candidate accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education in 2008, the college welcomed its third class of 90 students in August 2009 and will be eligible for full accreditation when its first class graduates in 2011.