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College of Pharmacy

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The Pharmacist’s Role in Health Equity


The College of Pharmacy remains committed to exploring ways to improved health care for everyone, but especially for those who are impacted even more as socially disadvantaged groups.

As part of an ongoing initiative to have a dialogue about health disparities and in celebration of Black History Month, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee sponsored a virtual conversation in February on the pharmacist’s role in addressing health equity. 

More than 180 students, faculty, staff and alumni joined the event led by five distinguished College of Pharmacy alumni, including Col. (Ret.) Everett B. McAllister, ’84, J. Lindsay Cobbs, ’92, Yorika Hammett, ’17, Gerald Isreal, Jr., ’88, and Krishnan Brown, ’17. Each panelist shared some of their personal experiences in dealing with health inequity.

The panelists discussed key areas related to health equity, including personal experiences with unconscious bias and microaggressions, health disparities in the Black community, and strategies that pharmacists can implement to improve health equity.

We as pharmacists must do more than talk about it. We must take action and insert ourselves into the process of finding solutions.

Gerald Isreal, Jr., R.Ph.  Chief Pharmacy Officer, BlueCross BlueShield of S.C.

Cobbs says trust issues within the African American community extend back for generations, and he encourages pharmacists to be a credible voice for their patients. “I am pleased the university is courageous to have a forum like this,” he says. “Awareness and education can lead to change and bring a new perspective.”

Isreal notes that there are many barriers that lead to health disparities.

“Access to health care, lack of education and the economies of deciding if you should pay for food for your family or for medication impact society as a whole. We as pharmacists must do more than talk about it. We must take action and insert ourselves into the process of finding solutions,” he says.

McAllister adds that pharmacists need to ensure their interactions with patients are not just transactional but are about building relationships. “You have to ask questions of your patients because they are not going to volunteer information,” he says. “We must empower people with knowledge.”

Hammett adds that efforts must continue to help increase diversity in health care. “We must reach out to our younger students about the pharmacy profession and engage them more through shadowing programs, so they see more faces that look like their own in leadership positions.”

These types of conversations demonstrate that pharmacy is not sheltered from happenings in the world, and it shows us that we as pharmacists can be part of the solution both individually and collectively.

Amy Grant, Pharm.D.  Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity

Amy Grant, associate dean of Student Affairs and Diversity, served as moderator for the panel discussion.

“These types of conversations demonstrate that pharmacy is not sheltered from happenings in the world, and it shows us that we as pharmacists can be part of the solution both individually and collectively,” she says. “The right thing is to talk about it and to put into action processes that will lead to change.”


 


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