John Mansour, who is Egyptian, attended Florida A&M University for pharmacy school following in the footsteps of his mother who is the director of pharmacy for Winter Park Hospital in Orlando. He would like to see more action taken in appealing to children at a young age.
“Minorities in the field, along with their institutions, should go talk to our kids in school during career days and explain what they do, how they got there and let them see that anyone can do it if they work at it,” he said. “It’s really positive to show kids people who look like them working in fields they may not think are accessible. That helps make dreams seem more attainable and it gives students role models.”
Butler agrees that exposure—as early as elementary school—is key for improvement.
“This exposure can be accomplished through summer camps, community outreach programs, middle and high school career days, or job shadowing opportunities,” she said. “Implement media and marketing strategies to promote minorities in pharmacy to allow students to see themselves in this career. Make intentional efforts to recruit and retain minority students and faculty into pharmacy school to enhance representation. Also, offer available financial and academic support for those in need to reduce barriers.”
Butler leads a high school summer camp at her institution for minority students interested in health care careers including pharmacy and also participates in numerous community outreach initiatives such as health fairs, flu clinics, and church presentations to showcase minorities in pharmacy.
“I have offered job shadowing to a number of minority students who were exploring health care career options and are now in pharmacy school,” she said. “Additionally, in my national pharmacy roles, I advocate for minority representation, diversity education, and diversity and inclusion efforts to be a priority and intentional.”
At Othello Station Pharmacy, Ali brings students of color in for internships and is happy to talk with youngsters who ask how he became a pharmacist.
I didn’t have that experience so I am happy to have that conversation with them,” he said. “When you don’t give students an ability to come and understand what the career path looks like, then they don’t know whether to pursue the career.”
Uddoh feels pharmacy schools can better emphasize their minority associations, such as the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, which is a minority-based pharmacy association.
To make women more interested in the field, pharmacy schools can emphasize the diverse field of pharmacy including pharmacists who work from home and work in offices with 9-5 hours Monday through Friday,” she said.
Personally, she serves as a mentor with Capella University and provides support to colleagues on LinkedIn when needed.
When Ali was in pharmacy school, out of nearly 100 students, there were only 4 students of color. He’s paid attention to the graduation rate over the years and said although it’s better, the numbers are still low.
“The way the system is set up, a lot of students of color are not exposed to the pharmacy field or connect with professionals that look like them,” he said. “Pharmacy is a very unique environment and sometimes you have to be connected with one to understand what a pharmacist does and what a career looks like.”