Birnie Completes Fulbright Visiting Scholar Appointment in India
Dr. Christine Birnie recently returned from her fall sabbatical as a Fulbright Scholar at SRM University in Chennai, India. While there, she was actively involved teaching and supporting the newly developed Pharm.D. program at the University.
In addition to pharmacy, SRM University has over 50 other degree programs, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, engineering, and business. The campus is located in the suburbs of the sprawling south Indian city of Chennai, enrolls 32,000 students each year, and houses a 1,200 bed teaching hospital on its campus.
Throughout Birnie’s four-month appointment at the College of Pharmacy, she taught lectures in all six years of the Pharm.D. program, accompanied students on clinical rounds, and instructed students in their laboratory courses. In addition, she conducted a series of four faculty development workshops related to teaching, education, professionalism, and research.
Her Fulbright project was entitled, “The Use of Active Learning Methodology in a Newly Developed Doctorate of Pharmacy Program in India.” She led teaching focused workshops related to active learning and guest lectures addressing the advances in clinical pharmacy not only at SRM University, but at six other pharmacy schools throughout the country and in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Fulbright organization highly encourages scholars to visit other schools and present lectures and workshops, often providing networking opportunities to facilitate such invitations. According to Birnie, she had more invitations than she could fulfill.
In addition to her classroom and lecture time, Birnie also helped to facilitate the involvement of pharmacy students in the University medical school’s community medicine outreach. The University provides a weekly medical camp in surrounding rural villages within an hour outside the college campus. Pharmacy students are now participating regularly in those camps, providing opportunities for experiential and interprofessional education (IPE).
As one of 50 Fulbrighters in 2013 assigned to universities throughout India, the organization provided numerous opportunities for networking and meetings. Birnie was invited to receptions with the U.S. Consulate General to India and additional networking opportunities which resulted in being an invited guest speaker for the Indian Pharmaceutical Association National Pharmacy Week Celebration in November and numerous other speaking engagements.
One of the goals for the Fulbright project is to promote the exchange of culture and education, and now that she has returned, Birnie plans to share her experiences from India at several local and national venues.
“Having the opportunity to live in another country and engage in its academic culture for an extended time was a unique opportunity and one I will remember for a lifetime,” said Birnie.
Currently, she is also working towards establishing a continued partnership between Fisher and SRM University for faculty and student exchange programs.