Positive feedback from pharmacy students pilot exchange program

9 February 2010

Exchange students tour the facility at the Niederberg Clinic in Germany.
Exchange students tour the facility at the Niederberg Clinic in Germany.

On Friday, 5th February, pharmacy students from the University of Sydney who are currently on a fourteen-day pilot exchange program, visited the Niederberg Clinic in Velbert, in North West Germany.

The tour was organized by Velbert pharmacists Niclas Förster and Jochen Pfeifer. Students were greeted at the Clinic by lead orthopedist Dr Martin Handler and given a tour of the facility.

"It's mainly about getting to know and understanding the different health care systems better and, accordingly, taking inspiration from best practice principles' and best approaches used in each" says Pfeifer, who is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota.

Students were able to examine the hospital pharmacy, inspect work-stations and were given a run down of the daily routine at the clinic. After donning protective clothing, the students were also given a tour of the operating theatre. Dr Handler explained that the clinic's surgical team is a relatively large one and pointed out some of the specialist equipment available in the theatre to the students. Dr Handler also explained in detail about his work in orthopedics before inviting the students to attend a discussion on X-ray methods.

The students had the opportunity to review what they had learnt during the day and ask Dr Handler many questions about the differences in health care systems in Australia and Germany. Questions ranged from monitoring of pharmaceutical drugs and dosages to materials used in arthroplasty or joint replacement in cancer treatment, as well as about the level of cooperation between doctors and pharmacists at the clinic in Germany.

One of the differences noted by the students was the fact that in Germany they don't always have a pharmacist present on rounds in hospitals. In Australia, involvement of a hospital pharmacist in rounds and in the evaluation of medical care is common practice. They also observed that in Australia, doctors and pharmacists work more closely together in the hospital setting than in Germany.

Students Xu Yang, Sophie McLeod, Diana Ho Huynh, Madeleine Digges, Nam Nguyen and Geoffrey Chai will be reporting back to the Faculty of Pharmacy in Sydney following their trip. Their reports and information on the experience during their exchange in Velbert will influence future international clinical placements for students of the Faculty.

For more information on courses of study at the Faculty of Pharmacy please visit

Contact: Claire Riordan

Phone: 02 9351 2311

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