From her home base at the University of Iowa, Jeanine Abrons uses her unique talents, skills and connections to serve health needs in Iowa and abroad.
Abrons, PharmD, MS, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) of the UI College of Pharmacy.
In 2011, she brought her first group of University of Iowa pharmacy students to the Caribbean country of Dominica for what is now an annual five-week professional experience. Abrons and her team of students seek to improve pharmacy practice in the country. The students educate and learn from Dominican pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and traditional medicine healers. They also work with patients, especially in rural health clinics. They provide preventative health screenings and continuing education. They offer information on everything from diabetes prevention to the Zika virus to wound care.
Beyond that, the team adjusts its outreach work year to year based on the country’s needs. In 2016, students lent a hand to help displaced residents in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika. Last fall, Hurricane Maria hit the small Caribbean island directly, so Abrons did not bring rotation students; however, the group did provide health training for runners at a 5K race.
For Abrons, opening her mind to new opportunities has paid off.
“It’s been truly rewarding to see this rotation become a living, breathing program that I hope is helping people,” says Abrons.
The stage was set for Abrons’ long-term relationship with the country while visiting with her husband before her UI days. The couple ended up on an advanced, six-hour hike through a mountainous tropical rainforest. Abrons—who didn’t adequately prepare—ended up dehydrated and motion sick from the winding Caribbean roads back to their resort.
Once there, resort staff climbed the paths and stairs to her cabin, bringing her natural remedies including ginger tea.
“I was struck by their generosity of spirit,” she says.
Abrons made connections with Dominica’s health care providers after she flew back home, including local entrepreneur and pharmacist Orrin Jolly of Jolly’s Pharmacy.
Abrons’s outreach and educational roles benefit people in the United States as well. She trains students to prevent and screen for chronic diseases, boost health literacy, and conduct clinical research.
In the College of Pharmacy, Abrons serves as a point person for global health initiatives well beyond her own. She represents the college on the Global Health Steering Committee. Nationally she is the secretary of the AACP Global Pharmacy Education special interest group and a member/liaison to the Global Health special interest group. The group has authored papers connecting global pharmacy education to pharmacy educational outcomes.
In addition, she works with students to develop other innovative programs, including a mobile app for health care providers around the world to download and use when screening patients for chronic conditions.
Abrons is an educator, global health professional, innovator, writer and editor, and entrepreneur.