Culturally Competent Care Creates a Safe Space for a Better Patient Experience

Pharmacy CareersSpring 2024
Volume 18
Issue 01

As pharmacists continue to step into additional roles, culturally competent care becomes an even more essential part of their practices.

When the topics of health literacy and cultural competency are integrated into learning, students’ scores in these areas improve, suggesting the need for their inclusion in current curricula.

pharmacist and woman at counter with medicine or prescription drugs sales at drug store. | Image Credit: Clayton D/ -

Image Credit: Clayton D/ -

As pharmacists continue to step into additional roles, culturally competent care becomes an even more essential part of their practices. Health disparities, particularly social determinants of health, have been rapidly growing topics of discussion, and rightfully so. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health care, just as not every patient’s needs are the same. Cultural competency is “the ability of the pharmacist to work effectively with all patients in a manner which values and respects differences as well as similarities,” according to a study published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.1 Pharmacy curricula should follow the needs of the vocation and incorporate culturally competent care into student learning.

In the study, there was a positive impact on student scores from the first to fourth professional year when health literacy and cultural competency were integrated into the curricula. When no activities in these topics existed, the scores dropped, further showcasing the need for the inclusion of these topics in curricula.1 The most effective implementations included in health disparity and cultural competency teachings were case-based and community engagement exercises.2

In this issue of Pharmacy Careers®, we explore topics related to delivering culturally competent care from various angles. In our cover feature, Stella Baribault, BSN, PharmD candidate, discusses the role of alternative medicine as complementary to traditional medicine. She highlights the need for pharmacists and students to further familiarize themselves with these methods to answer patient questions or identify the benefits and risks for their patients as these methods grow in popularity.

Likewise, a feature by Ashley Gallagher highlights an American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy delegation trip to Cuba, where alternative medication is commonly used to treat patients. In the feature, members of the delegation touch on how Cuban pharmacies address health disparities for their patients. A profile by Yasmeen Ettrick, PharmD candidate, showcases a multilingual pharmacist who discusses why being able to relate at a cultural level is essential to successfully interacting with her patient population.

Other topics of interest include alternative career paths, including a career in biopharmacy, discussed by Christina Miller, PharmD, RPh; Saira Jatoi, PharmD; and Tho Dao, PharmD; and how pharmacists can balance a career in traditional pharmacy with being a social media influencer in profiles by Kennedy Ferruggia. Another topic covered in this issue, by Alexis E. Figueroa, PharmD candidate, is the expansion of the OTC medication market. As of late, there have been the additions of OTC norgestrel and OTC naloxone, furthering the need for pharmacists to familiarize themselves with these new developments.

As the pharmacy practice continues to grow, continuous learning is key for students, practicing pharmacists, and everyone in the pharmacy industry.

We hope you enjoy reading these and other stories in this issue of Pharmacy Careers and gain insight into how the pharmacy industry continues to evolve and change health care and the societal landscape.

Thank you for reading.

  1. Chen AMH, Cailor SM, Wicker E, Harper NG, Franz TT, Pahl B. Integrating health literacy and cultural competency concepts across the doctor of pharmacy curriculum. Am J Pharm Educ. 2020;84(10):ajpe7764. doi:10.5688/ajpe7764
  2. Drame I, Gibson CM, Nonyel NP, et al. Strategies for incorporating health disparities and cultural competency training into the pharmacy curriculum and co-curriculum. Am J Pharm Educ. 2022;86(3):8631. doi:10.5688/ajpe8631
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