Unique Offerings, Curriculum to Prepare for Cultural Differences


The most important thing you must do is listen to the patient, understand their concerns, and by doing that, you will gain their trust to be able to treat them appropriately.

In interviews with Pharmacy Times, students from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo discussed their unique experiences as students in Hawaii. The state has a distinct culture and different patient populations from the mainland United States, and the students said that has led them to have unique perspectives on culturally competent care and pharmacists’ roles in the community.

Andrew Schuler, fourth-year pharmacy student: At the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, every student took a class called Communication and Culture, a class that educated us on the importance of understanding the challenges of a language barrier, as well as how religious beliefs may also be a challenge when it comes to treating a patient's disease. The most important thing you must do is listen to the patient, understand their concerns, and by doing that, you will gain their trust to be able to treat them appropriately.

Taylor Elola, second-year pharmacy student: One of our courses during the first year was actually called Communication and Culture. And this class focused on learning to communicate vital drug information effectively to patients, a lot of motivational interviewing to promote patient adherence and compliance; and most of all, like in depth, education about different familial, cultural, spiritual, and even religious practices, and customs that may affect a patient's outlook on medications, vaccines and health care overall. From this class, we learned more about these customs and practices as well as our role as health care providers to be empathetic, respectful, be active listeners and enthusiastic educators.

Analeslie Martinez, fourth-year pharmacy student: So as mentioned, doing these rural health certificates, I learned about the really unique care that rural health communities require or have. I've also been involved in several organizations at our school that promote specific care to rural populations of Hawaii. For example, I'm in this organization that was called Ho'omalu Ola, which actually translates to "guardians of health." And we provided free health screenings to a rural fishing village called Miloli'i. We also did patient education on chronic illnesses, and even provide them with food bags to promote healthy eating, and kind of promoted some education through there as well. I'm also involved in a organization called Pacific Islander Mobile Screening Clinic. And we also provided free health screenings to everyone in the community on behalf of higher emphasis on Pacific Islanders, since they are an underserved population. And what's so unique about this specific organization was that prior to COVID-19, this organization partnered up with the medical school in a Oahu JABSOM, and they would come over here we'd have this really big event on the Big Island, a bunch of community members would come out and we promote health. So it was a great way to connect everyone together. Also, what has been really special about being here is that, um, the opportunities that I've been able to get through my pharmacy rotations, like the IPPE/APPE, is there's so many different locations that we are able to go to so there's rotation sites all over the state of Hawaii, which is really able to tailor the students interests to their passions. For me, for example, I decided to stay on the Big Island for three rotations. I'm going to be going to New Mexico right after, I'm going to be in the Navajo reservation, and also in Gala. And then my last rotation I will be in Saipem. Yeah, so our school has really helped realize my goals of learning through experience where I'm able to really have different types of pharmacy experience in rural locations across Hawaii, the mainland and abroad.

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