Incorporation of pharmacy personnel into medical mission trips: Benefits of an interprofessional team




White, Annesha
Cobern, Brianna


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There is a multitude of literature discussing the benefits of having pharmacy services incorporated into the medical mission team, however very few articles discuss in detail how pharmacists provide those services. The UNTHSC Christian Medical Association organizes an annual trip to various countries in Central America and has recently started incorporating pharmacists. The objective of this research was to review the literature within the last decade on the contribution of a pharmacist on the medical mission team. A secondary aim was to identify specific areas for consideration, such as medication acquisition, formulary development and pediatric dosing. A review of the literature was conducted identifying articles by searching PubMed, Scopus and Academic Search Complete, using the keywords ‘pharmacy’, ‘mission trips’, ‘medical missions’, ‘formulary’, and ‘religious missions.’ Articles that were published between 2007 and 2017 were included in the analysis. A summary was provided based on eight subtopics: acquiring medications; formulary development; work flow; transportation; packaging, labeling and medication setup; medication data collection; counseling; and pediatrics. A template was developed reflecting medical mission trip workflow. The search yielded a total of 10 articles for review. Findings revealed that medication acquisition and formulary development are key pre-trip roles for pharmacists. If medication is being brought outside the country where the trip is taking place, pharmacists should research the foreign country’s policies beforehand to ensure there are no issues with customs during travel. Counseling and work flow were the most common roles in terms of impact. Packaging and labeling improved efficiency for patients when customized to their language preference. Few studies thoroughly examined pediatric dosing, and none of the studies highlighted the pharmacist’s role in pediatric dosing. Previous literature has shown that pharmacy services are beneficial, but developing more standardized methods of how to utilize pharmacy services will help increase pharmacist contributions on mission trips. Since pharmacist involvement is a newer idea, there are a lack of empirical studies to measure the success of pharmacist involvement. More research using randomized control trials or specific outcome measures would benefit the existing body of literature. An opportunity exists for pharmacists to effectively contribute on an interprofessional team.