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UW Pharmacy Student to Work With HIV/AIDS Patients in South Africa

February 11, 2009
University of Wyoming pharmacy student Shanna O'Connor will work with HIV/Aids patients this spring in Cape Town, South Africa.

University of Wyoming pharmacy student Shanna O'Connor of Atlanta, Ga., received a $2,500 scholarship from Child Family Health International (CFHI) to work with HIV/Aids patients this spring in Cape Town, South Africa.

She is the first pharmacy student selected to participate in the CFHI program. O'Connor established a special preceptor site and the rotation will be specifically shaped to her interests.

"When I was researching possible study sites, I chose two options in South Africa that offered experience with HIV-positive patients," she says. "The program in Cape Town was my first choice because it gives students balanced exposure to patients with a variety of disease states."

She hopes to get a job working in a clinic or doctor's office with a specialty in either HIV or diabetes.

"As a pharmacist, I could play an integral role in the day-to-day management of HIV patients, as they are typically on many different medications," O'Connor says. "Because Wyoming does not have a large HIV-positive population, I decided to pursue more experience with this disease during my month off."

Her experiences at UW's School of Pharmacy prepared her well for the South Africa assignment, she says.

"I feel confident in my knowledge of the medications I will encounter and especially in my ability to talk with patients regardless of their background," says O'Connor. She cites her adviser, Associate Professor Glaucia Teixeira, for supporting her efforts to get UW credit for the work in South Africa. She also praises the encouragement and assistance of Maria Bennett, student advising coordinator, and assistant professor Michelle Hilaire, who helped her develop a syllabus for the Wyoming course.

"I have received nothing but positive feedback and encouragement from everyone in the College of Health Sciences and I am excited to bring the knowledge I've gained here to a new situation and learn even more," O'Connor says. 

Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2009

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