Future pharmacists in Germany

So everyone, thanks for sticking with us. This is our final wrap up blog and it has been a joy sharing our experiences with you. This is our last week in Velbert and we have been as busy as ever. On Monday we had our last lecture at the University of Essen discussing new changes that have been occuring in the German and American healthcare systems. We received good news from Joch and Nic that two of the students want to complete their Masters Thesis in Minnesota. We must have been so captivating that they think everyone in Minnesota is as charming, right? I don't know if I had mentioned the heat wave we have had in any of our last blogs, but it has been like an oven for the past two weeks. The heat and the humidity finally broke that afternoon in one big thunderstorm. We were planning to go to the Geriatric clinic in Neviges, but trees were knocked down on the train tracks and the power went out for a few of the lines. As we have often learned in Germany, sometimes circumstances are out of our control, and we had to make alternate plans for the day.

On to Tuesday. We met with the local state pharmacy board in Dusseldorf and discussed pharmacy practice differences between our countries. Afterwards we met with the chairwoman of the Continuing Education program in Germany. Surprisingly, Continuing Education is not mandatory here. This has actually been a controversial issue in many of our discussions with German pharmacists. We also toured the chairwoman's pharmacy that emphasizes family and pediatric health. It was interesting to see a completely different selection of OTC products focusing on a specific population.

The highlight of the week though was definitely Wednesday, when the local senior citizens organization came to the Burgerstube. We completely filled the room. There were 55 people there from the association just to meet us. It was a lot of fun because this meeting was not about pharmacy, policy, or professional advocacy, it was just us telling them about Minnesota and some childhood stories. The group was very welcoming and excited to hear from us, even though they spoke no English and we spoke no German. Once again, we were grateful for our bilingual preceptors!

We have loved our time here in Germany. We're lucky that we had the opportunity for this unique rotation. We have met a lot of wonderful people and have learned quite a bit about the healthcare system in Germany and while doing so we have developed insight into our own.

Thanks to everyone at the U who helped organize the program, and a special thanks to all of our German hosts. We will miss joshing around with our preceptors, working in the pharmacy, and eating spaetzle at Frau Biester's every day.

Thank you for reading. We're looking forward to seeing you back home in Minnesota!

Auf Wedersehen,

Adam, Lisa, Anna, Tammy, Jamie, Anne, Trina, Michelle, Angela, Stephanie, and Amy


Apotheke Video as Promised

Pharmacy Students in the Apotheka
Hello everyone,

I have included the video of our time working in the Adler Apotheke. Take a look, I think it's pretty interesting. Well it is if you are a pharmacy nerd like me, but give it a look anyway. This is the last video we will have time for so please give a hand to all of our actors and actresses that participated. We should also give special credit to Lisa for editing all of the videos and making this blog thing happen in the first place.

I know in the last blog I said that we would only have time for one more post, but this one doesn't really count because it's so short. I promise there will be one more coming.

Check out our final video below!!!


Adam, Lisa, Anna, Tammy, Jamie, Anne, Trina, Michelle, Angela, Stephanie, and Amy


Ich spreche kein Deutsch


After spending a whole month in Germany, we're finally starting to pick up a little tiny bit of the language, but it's still slow progress. It's hard to believe it's already been a whole month! Things are flying by; we have continued to meet with representatives from different levels of healthcare. This last week we met with Velbert's Vice Mayor, the county commissioner, and the leading addiction medicine physician in Germany. These meetings were good, but alas are not the focus of this particular blog. We have been able to spend a little more time in the pharmacy recently and have started to learn the specific details of a community pharmacist's practice.

I think the best way to describe the life of a German pharmacist is to describe how it is different to that of a pharmacist in the U.S. First of all, they make teas. No, you didn't hear me wrong, they practice homeopathy. In fact, a rather large part of their collegiate studies focus on homeopathy. Part of our time here was to be introduced to the practice. We learned about 15 different herbals, what parts of the plant they come from, their active components, and their effects on the body. This is only a small fraction of the hundreds of herbals that German pharmacists are required to know. Another interesting difference is the practice of product analysis. Before any medication is used by the pharmacy, they must chemically verify the identity of the drug. When we started to learn about this practice, it took us all back to our undergraduate studies. To say the least, it has been a while since we have done an acid base titration or a thin layer chromatography analysis. I know I said that I was going to tell you about the differences, but it was comforting that we aren't completely divergent. We compounded a few products and other than the fact that they make more beauty products and a higher volume in general, the practice of compounding here is generally the same as it is in the United States.

Finding common ground is nice, but let's return to the differences. The pharmacy technicians here, or rather the Pharmaceutical Technical Assistants (PTAs), are more highly trained and have received 2 & 1/2 years of post graduate education. This means that though the pharmacist is still legally responsible for everything going on the in the pharmacy, the PTAs can also do EVERYTHING the pharmacist can. This includes chemical analysis, creation of homeopathic teas, compounding, and the pharmacist's pride and joy in the US... counseling patients.

We are still creating our video to show you a glimpse of our time at the pharmacy, but it's a work in progress. We are almost done in Germany; just one week to go and then back to reality. We'll try to get up one more post before we all scatter.

Thanks for reading.

Adam, Lisa, Anna, Tammy, Jamie, Anne, Trina, Michelle, Angela, Stephanie, and Amy


Guten Tag!


Group Visiting Dusseldorf

Monday: June 28th, 2010

Hello again from Deutschland,

Today we traveled to the University of Duisberg-Essen to receive our first of three lectures from Joch and Nic on "International Pharmaceutical Markets with particular regard to International and Comparative Health Care". The presentation was given to a joint class of ourselves and German students who will receive a Masters in Medical Management. The class was a great opportunity to apply what

we have learned so far on our Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE). We have already met with the CEO and executives of TK, a major social health insurance company, as well as the pharmacy representative of the local physicians board. We also toured and rounded with physicians at the Niederburg hospital. This allowed to us to build a basis of understanding that facilitated our discussions at the University. We discussed the differences in the German and United States healthcare system and both student groups quite adamantly stated that the other country's system could not function in their own. We are here for combining international best practices though, so hopefully over the next 3 weeks we can reach some sort of agreement. We had lunch at the Essen student cafeteria, not the best food to say the least, but that's at least one thing that our countries have in common- bad student cafeteria food. Three of the German students volunteered to do an interview and were quite candid with their answers. Hopefully you will check out our video blog below concerning the student perspectives of both groups.

This week we will be traveling to Berlin and learning more about the German healthcare system in relation to the United States. We will be meeting with the Assistant Secretary of Health, a national patient advocate group, as well as the National Board of Pharmacy. We may still get to see Parliament, but with the current political issues of the German President resigning unexpectedly and an immediate election required, it may get a little dicey. As Joch says, on top of the "Official Program", in the evenings we will also try to get out and experience the culture and see the city.

More blogs to come, we promise. We will be learning more about the duties of a community pharmacist in the coming weeks as well as some specialties that are quite unique to Germany, such as compounding herbal teas and homeopathy. We are having a great time over here and are all thinking of our family and friends daily.

Talk to you soon,

Adam, Lisa, Anna, Tammy, Jamie, Anne, Trina, Michelle, Angela, Stephanie, and Amy


Hello World!


Group Picture with Dr. Fisken
This is our first blog and video, so take it easy on us. We have landed in Germany and our first day here was a Sunday. We just got settled into the Bergerstube and then all went out for a little cultural experience. We went to a local pub to watch the World Cup soccer match of Germany against Australia. Germany won 4-0! Following the match the younger residents of the city drove around with flags on their cars, honking horns and blowing the African Vuvuzelas.

Monday was our first day and was just an introduction by Josh and Nic, our preceptors, to our rotation in Velbert, Germany.

Tuesday we went to the Niederberg Klinikum, the local 500 bed hospital that serves the area around Velbert. We were welcomed by the CEO of the hospital and were led on a tour to see all the various departments and talked with many hospital workers. We will be going back there next week to participate in rounds.

On Wednesday we toured Josh and Nic's pharmacy, the Adler Apotheke, and were introduced to the staff there. In the afternoon on Wednesday we had a meeting with Dr. Fruesken, a leading Physician in the field of Geriatric Medicine, and discussed the board certification Process in Germany and America.

On Thursday we went to the International School of Business on the Dortmund University. We had a discussion concerning our combined Pharm/MBA compared with their Phama MBA with the department head of the health science business management school. After we took a few hours and experienced Koln and went to the Koln Cathedral or Dom. It is a beautiful gothic style church that was started being built in the year 1248. We got an amazing tour from Nic who is extremely knowledgeable on the cathedral. Afterwards we climbed the 533 steps to the cathedral's bell tower. The view was amazing!!! That was our first week in a nutshell.

This weekend we all go to Amsterdam to have fun and have a break from our jam packed first week.

Yours Truly,

Adam, Lisa, Tammy, Amy, Anne, Trina, Angela, Stephanie, Michelle, Anna, and Jamie

Auf Wiedersehen!!!

For those of you who would like, we have also prepared a video blog of just one cultural experience that we have taken part in from our program so far in Germany.

Follow future pharmacists to Germany


In June, a group of 11 University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy students will take off for a five-week experience in Germany. This blog chronicles their trip - both their educational and personal experiences - as they learn about pharmacy practice and the health care system in a different culture.