Howard University Aims to Increase Representation of Black Pharmacists

Howard University Aims to Increase Representation of Black Pharmacists

Howard University is making efforts to address the underrepresentation of Black pharmacists in drug stores across the United States. The university recognizes that having more African American pharmacists could potentially result in a decrease in life-threatening illnesses among Black patients, according to Dr. Tamara McCants, a clinical assistant professor at the historically Black institution.

Research supports the notion that Black patients respond better to Black healthcare professionals, as numerous studies have shown. Currently, out of over 315,000 pharmacists in the country, only about four percent, or approximately 12,000, are identified as Black, based on data from the Department of Labor. However, there has been recent progress, with the percentage of Black pharmacists more than doubling between 2019 and 2020, from 2.3% to 4.9%, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Many of those entering the field are Black women.

In order to attract more potential students, Howard University aims to highlight the profession’s high starting salaries. Dr. McCants emphasizes the importance of conveying this information, particularly when engaging with elementary school students. The allure of a substantial income can serve as a motivating factor for aspiring pharmacists. McCants herself experienced the financial benefits of the profession, as she started with a salary of $105,000 right after completing pharmacy school.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the essential role of pharmacists in the medical field. They were called upon to carry out a range of critical tasks, such as administering vaccinations, adjusting medications, and conducting wellness visits. According to McCants, pharmacists can also bridge the cultural care gap for Black patients, who often feel more comfortable seeking healthcare from Black providers. As the most accessible healthcare professionals, pharmacists play a vital role in providing trusted care tailored to the needs of their communities.

For Jelani Smith, a 32-year-old Army veteran and first-year pharmacy student at Howard, pursuing a career in pharmacy is driven by a desire to improve healthcare access in his hometown in eastern North Carolina. After the closure of the local pharmacy, many individuals in his community lacked access to essential medicines and healthcare services. Smith’s ultimate goal is to open a pharmacy in his town and combat prevalent health issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

While Howard University aims to graduate more Black pharmacists, there are challenges to overcome. The rigorous nature of the pharmacy program, coupled with various distractions that Black students often face, such as the high cost of tuition and family responsibilities, can make it difficult to persist and complete the program. Nevertheless, the university is committed to providing the necessary support and resources to ensure the success of its students.

In conclusion, Howard University’s efforts to increase the representation of Black pharmacists highlight the importance of diversity in healthcare. By attracting and supporting aspiring pharmacists from underrepresented communities, the university aims to improve patient outcomes, address cultural care gaps, and contribute to the overall well-being of Black communities across the country.

FAQ Section:

1. Why is Howard University focusing on addressing the underrepresentation of Black pharmacists?
– Howard University recognizes that having more African American pharmacists could potentially result in a decrease in life-threatening illnesses among Black patients, according to Dr. Tamara McCants, a clinical assistant professor at the university.

2. How many Black pharmacists are there currently in the United States?
– Based on data from the Department of Labor, approximately four percent of over 315,000 pharmacists in the country are identified as Black. This amounts to approximately 12,000 Black pharmacists.

3. Has there been any progress in increasing the number of Black pharmacists?
– Yes, there has been recent progress. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the percentage of Black pharmacists more than doubled between 2019 and 2020, from 2.3% to 4.9%.

4. Why does Howard University aim to highlight the profession’s high starting salaries?
– Howard University aims to attract more potential pharmacy students by emphasizing the profession’s high starting salaries. This information can serve as a motivating factor for aspiring pharmacists, particularly when engaging with elementary school students.

5. What role did pharmacists play during the COVID-19 pandemic?
– Pharmacists played an essential role in the medical field during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were called upon to carry out critical tasks such as administering vaccinations, adjusting medications, and conducting wellness visits.

6. How can pharmacists bridge the cultural care gap for Black patients?
– According to Dr. McCants, pharmacists can bridge the cultural care gap for Black patients by providing trusted care tailored to the needs of their communities. Black patients often feel more comfortable seeking healthcare from Black providers.

7. What is the ultimate goal of Jelani Smith, a first-year pharmacy student at Howard University?
– Jelani Smith’s ultimate goal is to open a pharmacy in his hometown in eastern North Carolina. He aims to improve healthcare access in his community, especially after the closure of the local pharmacy.

8. What challenges do Black pharmacy students face?
– Black pharmacy students face challenges such as the rigorous nature of the pharmacy program, the high cost of tuition, and family responsibilities. These challenges can make persisting and completing the program difficult.

Key Terms/Jargon:

– Underrepresentation: Lack of adequate representation or presence.
– Life-threatening illnesses: Conditions or diseases that pose a significant risk to a person’s life.
– Historically Black institution: An educational institution that was established primarily for Black students during periods of racial segregation or discrimination.
– Cultural care gap: Disparity in healthcare access and treatment experienced by individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
– Cardiovascular disease: A range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, often leading to heart attacks or strokes.
– Diabetes: A chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels, often leading to complications affecting various organs.
– Rigorous: Thorough, demanding, or exacting.
– Well-being: The state of being healthy, happy, and prosperous.

Suggested Related Links:

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
Howard University
British Medical Association

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