Various learning experiences involving the museum have been designed for first professional year pharmacy students enrolled in the Pharmaceutical Anthropology segment of the required Psycho-social Foundations component of the Doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD) professional curriculum. These experiences help students appreciate pharmacy’s heritage, as they tackle the history of pharmacy in Puerto Rico and reflect about the social responsibilities of pharmacy as a profession and the pharmacist as a health professional. They also engage in small group research projects in general and specific aspects of the history of pharmacy and of medicinal plants, selected by them and with the help of the staff of the museum. In addition, an elective course on medicinal plants is to be offered in the graduate program (MS in Pharmacy), which includes a research project related to the medicinal plants in the collection.
The museum receives graduate and undergraduate students from different academic programs doing research on historical aspects of therapy with medicinal plants and related subjects. They are assisted by the staff in their search, allowed to use primary and secondary references available at the museum’s office and when pertinent, referred to other places or people who may be of help. Researchers working on discovery and development of medicines from plants at different campuses of the UPR are members of the Medicinal Plants Research Network. As such they enjoy access to information on drug and natural products through the School of Pharmacy’s Center for Drug Information and Research, to seeds and plants for research, to the facilities at the Medicinal Plants Garden for courses, workshops, and research meetings, and other benefits. At the same time they collaborate with the museum by sharing information on their research which allows a specific area in the Medicinal Plants Garden to be dedicated to plants under investigation in the UPR, and assisting the medicinal plants curator and staff in the preparation of exhibitions on medicinal plants.
The Education/Communication Program includes a Guided Tours Program, intended for diverse audiences interested in the health sciences, frequently solicited through appointment by groups of students from pharmacy technician programs, high school and junior high school students, and also university students from fields such as history of Puerto Rico, botany, and agronomy. It also includes an Exhibitions/Promotion Program, responsible for the preparation and maintenance of permanent and temporary exhibits, the development of educational and promotional strategies and materials, and the coordination of “tertulias” as a forum to promote the preservation of pharmacy’s social values.