I told my mom years ago that I could see myself living on a farm, enjoying my acres of land and Noah’s Ark plethora of animals. After visiting Iara this past week, those dreams were confirmed. Not only did I see cows, but a pack of dogs greeted us every morning and followed us to the pharmacy. Can life get any better??
With all seriousness, the pharmacy in Iara reminded me of rural pharmacies in Iowa. Pharmacists know their patients, the population is older, and many of them are battling with comorbid conditions and do not have frequent access to a physician or hospital. The doctor comes to visit twice a week, so it leaves the pharmacy and the pharmacists to take some initiative with the patient’s health. This does mean that pharmacists are giving antibiotics without prescriptions and technicians have more autonomy than I would see at a Walgreens. Not saying that what they do is wrong or that pharmacy in Romania is lacking policy enforcement or policies in general; I am saying that things are different. It is interesting to be in the rural pharmacy and constantly compare things they do in the States to what they do in Romania or the rest of Europe. Sometimes I feel ashamed constantly implying that the United States has it better, when in fact we have it completely wrong on so many levels. Our fear of socialist takeover, huge gaps in healthcare, and millions of people losing their insurance does not make America great by any means. However, when you put two American pharmacy students in Romania these are the conversations that occur. We do have many commonalities with Romania: drugs, rules about controlled substances, increase in antimicrobial stewardship, the desire to make pharmacists part of the healthcare team. No matter where you go, pharmacists are encountering the same struggles and trying to initiate change, but society, cultural norms, government, and the healthcare system hinder that progress.
Being in Iara, it is interesting to see the emphasis on plant and herbal remedies. We get some of that if we need to know where a drug originated from, but we do not get two years of classes specifically focused on plants. They know so many plants and their mechanism of actions, and sometimes those medications (learned that we should not say drugs because drugs is a negative term and associated with illegal substances, whereas medicines are for treatment) are prescribed as first line.
Romanians are probably some of the nicest people I have ever encountered. The level of hospitality is higher than anything I have ever experienced. It could be their pro-American views, the culture, or that they are genuinely great people. In Iara, a technician named Raluca took us in her home, fed us, let us drink 6 bottles of her wine. Whoever I meet here, they make me feel like family and it makes being here that much more special.
When we got back we celebrated with the health professional students (UMF students) at their traditional singing event near the dorms. Each graduating class (one for pharmacy, medical, and dental) makes their own song and perform it. It was amazing to see how much unity the school has and the rich student traditions that makes their experience at UMF memorable. They also get to plan their graduation, which includes fireworks and the ceremony being in the futbol arena!
To top off our fun-filled weekend, we went to the Tudor Gorge. Which I think there needs to be no description or funny anecdotes, so I will just provide poze (pictures).