Assessing Pharmacy Students’ Perceptions of Global Health Opportunities

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Objective: To assess pharmacy student perceptions of the benefits and barriers to global health (GH) opportunities at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy.

Methods: An online survey was administered to 223 pharmacy students assessing their perceived benefits and barriers to GH opportunities during the PharmD curriculum. 5-point scale questions were recorded. Chi-square test was used to compare the four classes and Fisher’s Exact test compared students with prior GH experience to those without.

Results: A total of 118 (52.9%) students completed the survey. Across class years, the highest scoring GH benefit was “increased overall knowledge about GH” (89.8%, [106/118]). No differences in perceptions of benefits were seen across the classes or between the prior/no prior GH groups, however, P1 students ranked benefit statements higher than any other class. The highest ranked barrier for all class years was “cost (financial)” (77.1%, [91/118]) and was also the highest ranked barrier among students with or without prior GH experience.

Conclusion: Most students ranked all GH benefits highly, indicating that benefits alone do not necessarily influence a student’s decision to participate. Programs may want to focus on addressing the highest ranked barrier(s) to participation, such as “cost.” Early and frequent dissemination of available local and international GH opportunities to students may minimize this perceived barrier and others.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in College of Pharmacy, Virtual Poster Session Spring 2021


  1. Kelsey – Your work addressed an important learning component which drives the development of future leadership in pharmacy profession. My question to you is that if you inquired students about the benefits of GH to their future career development. I feel that it’s important to highlight the benefits beyond what they can feel right now. I thought that it might be interesting to talk to those students who have gone through GH experiences and have worked as pharmacist for at least 3 years and see how they view the benefits of GH. Just a thought from a different angle. Not a question, but just an observation.

    1. Hi – thanks for your comment! This is an excellent observation, and one that I realized during the later stage of my project that would be a natural next step for this project’s theme. While this study focuses on student perceptions, I definitely agree that it would be beneficial to assess the perceptions of currently practicing pharmacists and determine whether certain aspects of schooling or experience may have contributed to their personal view of global health as it relates to their current practice. Thanks!

  2. Nice work, Kelsey. What was the most important thing you learned through your participation in this project?

    1. Dr. Witt, thank you so much for reviewing my project! Most importantly, I learned about how meaningful local global health activities can be to student development and that utilization of local global health opportunities is a strategy that PharmD programs often overlook. Additionally, this study helped me recognize that programs may want to focus specifically on P1 students when introducing and promoting global health opportunities.

      Generally, I would say that the most important “life skill” I learned was how the IRB process works as well as how to prepare a manuscript publication, since exposure to these processes will certainly prepare me for a residency research project next year. Thanks again!

  3. Kelsey, Such a pleasure to see your excellent work come together. I think I understand much more clearly now the impetus behind the study, particularly the foundational definition of “Global Health.” That definition meshes so well with your response below that “local global health” is something that we should be focusing on. I think we tend to think “rural health,” but to not put that or even work with underrepresented populations in our own communities/city as in the realm of “global health” given the definition you provide. I would think that educating our faculty and students on this broader conceptualization of “global health” would be useful in increasing the opportunities in this realm. Such “local global health” should minimize the impact of some perceived barriers, such as cost and time out from personal and professional obligations.

    1. Dr. Keefe, you are absolutely right! “Local global health” is often not intuitively understood as included in “global health.” In coordinating many new events for APhA-IPSF these last few years, I’ve done my best to contribute to this “local global health” concept by helping introduce new opportunities for our students to serve at the PrEP Clinic, assist in educating refugees new to the Salt Lake City area, and even coordinate blood drives – all of which meet the proposed definition of global health. Student experience in all of these examples are essentially “no cost” and are often easy to work around regarding personal or professional obligations. Thank you so much for your comment and review of my project!

  4. Nice work Kelsey!! Did you investigate student involvement in FIP (an international pharmacy organization) What type of follow up study would you propose?

    1. Dr. Shane-McWhorter, thank you so much for checking out my project! While I did not specifically investigate involvement in FIP, I did categorize which students had “prior global health experience before pharmacy school” by utilizing “involvement in global health-related student group(s)” as one of the options to select in order to fall into that group.

      I also think there are many directions a follow-up study could go, and perhaps assessing that group a bit deeper (prior global health vs not) may be any interesting scenario. Alternatively, I believe it would also be reasonable to expand the study to other PharmD programs and assess what local global health options are available and determine the level to which this truly prepares student pharmacists for their future careers, or, if participation truly does increase with a reduction in particular barriers (whether that is implementation/promotion of local global health opportunities and/or other international experiences). Again, many directions to go, but with this study being the first to assess students with prior global health compared to those without, there’s definitely room to grow with this student population.

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