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June 9, 2021

Pharmacy Mentor Helps Black Student Pharmacists and Practitioners Reach Their Potential

Joshua Blackwell, Pharm.D., M.S., volunteers his time to help those in his community.

THE ROAD TOWARD GREATER DIVERSITY, inclusion, and equity is long, but Joshua Blackwell, Pharm.D., M.S., clinical pharmacy manager for ambulatory services at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is committed to seeing it through as best as he can.

Helping the Underrepresented

Dr. Blackwell has spent the better part of the last decade helping underserved pharmacists move up in their careers. In 2013, during his pharmacy studies, he took on leadership positions at the Student National Pharmacy Association (SNPhA), an organization dedicated to serving the underserved. Dr. Blackwell started off as his chapter’s president but quickly rose to oversee all SNPhA chapters in the Midwest and ultimately became National President.

“I had the honor of helping the organization home in on their mission by creating innovative programs and opportunities to serve and strengthen communities,” said Dr. Blackwell, an ASHP member since 2011.

One initiative he worked on was the Prescription for Service competition, a collaboration with Walmart and Sam’s Club, which provides scholarships to pharmacy students based on projects they develop to help the underserved in their community.

“I’ll never forget the winners of the very first competition, in 2013,” Dr. Blackwell said. That project was done by pharmacy students at Howard University and led to a partnership between the University and the Capitol City Pharmacy Medical Reserves Corps, in which the school manages outreach efforts to local student organizations, including wellness fairs and scholarship opportunities. Another winning project Dr. Blackwell is particularly proud of was developed by pharmacy students at Texas A&M University and included a cleanup of a community park and a mural painted on a nearby basketball court to help promote equity and inclusion.

Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy

Joshua Blackwell, Pharm.D., M.S.

After strengthening his leadership chops at SNPhA, Dr. Blackwell co-founded the Pharmacy Initiative Leaders (PILs), a nonprofit organization aimed at empowering underrepresented individuals and “helping them, through authentic support and connection, succeed at every stage of their pharmacy journey,” he said.

“A key to the organization’s success has been creating a culture of community and going out and really cultivating and amplifying people’s strengths, particularly those who may not have an advanced education or the greatest financial resources,” said Dr. Blackwell.

Recently, he and his colleagues at PILs addressed vaccine hesitancy in Black communities through a webinar open to the public.

“When I got the COVID-19 vaccine myself, I had reactions from family ranging from, ‘I’m so happy for you, how’re you feeling?’ to, ‘Are they trying to kill you with the vaccine?’” Dr. Blackwell said, pointing to the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study as an event that spawned suspicion in Black communities regarding the motives of healthcare institutions and public health campaigns.

While historical suspicions are understandable, “People who hold on to fears based on news and social media find it hard to see the positive impact COVID-19 vaccination can have on the community,” Dr. Blackwell said.

To mitigate the impact of these fears, he and his co-presenters explained how COVID-19 vaccines work, answered questions about these medications and about the disease, and highlighted that vaccination is important for all, including Black communities.

Navigating Widespread Biases

Dr. Blackwell’s passion for helping Black pharmacy students and practitioners reach their potential was sparked when, as a student, he faced his own race-based barriers.

“As a black male at a predominantly white institution, people assumed I played football just because a lot of African American males at the university did,” said Dr. Blackwell. In other instances, he faced microaggressions, such as being told that he was “surprisingly articulate.”

Rather than taking these slights to heart, Dr. Blackwell transformed their energy into a stronger resolve to serve his community and reach greater heights. “I’ve always tried to be an example so that other people that look like me try and have a seat at the table, along with the many other underrepresented groups out there,” he said.

Divya Varkey, Pharm.D., M.S., clinical associate professor at University of Houston College of Pharmacy, has been one of Blackwell’s most admired mentors. She said Dr. Blackwell “epitomizes the idea of ‘paying it forward,’ and his passion is easy to see when it comes to providing guidance, support, and mentorship to those around him.”

“His goal for those around him is simply stated: to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be the best version of themselves,” Dr. Varkey said. “To that end, as a mentor himself, Dr. Blackwell spends countless hours working with mentees to help them cultivate their own definition of success and then – and most importantly – connects them to opportunities to achieve those goals.”

ASHP and Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Dr. Blackwell recently served on ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), where he helped develop recommendations on marketing and advocacy. The recommendations range from calling on ASHP to provide scholarships to Black, Indigenous, and persons of color (BIPOC) to asking the organization to spotlight the accomplishments of BIPOC students.

“To make all pharmacists feel that ASHP is their home, they need to see themselves playing a role within the organization, and marketing and awareness of ASHP opportunities is one way to get more people at the table,” Dr. Blackwell said, adding that by virtue of taking on leadership roles – including currently serving as a member of ASHP’s House of Delegates  –  he believes he has helped further the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Having a seat at the table is so important because it inspires others who look like me to go further, ultimately giving them more of a voice and expanding the conversation to include other viewpoints,” said Dr. Blackwell.

He is hopeful the DEI Task Force recommendations will help chip away at society-wide racial inequality and urged ASHP members to review and reflect on the recommendations as well as the actions ASHP takes to address health disparities.

“And be a voice within your state affiliates for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts,” Dr. Blackwell urged. “While work at the national level is critical, it all starts at the state level.”

 

By David Wild

April 23, 2021

Hospital Pharmacy Leader Makes Mentorship a Top Priority

Vickie Powell, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP

WITH A PASSION FOR MENTORSHIP and a dedication to her community and the pharmacy profession, Vickie Powell, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, is a pharmacist to emulate. Dr. Powell, site director of pharmacy for New York-Presbyterian Hospital, first thought about a pharmacy career during high school, where she had an interest in and maintained good grades in science. A guest speaker encouraged her and some of her high-achieving classmates to pursue careers in the medical field.

“I did not want to be a doctor because I didn’t like blood,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a dentist. So I thought pharmacy would be the best profession for me because I wouldn’t have to come in contact with all of those things. I love pharmacy. I’m glad I took that path.”

After completing pharmacy school at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Dr. Powell got married and moved to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, where she took a pharmacist position at a drug store downstairs from her apartment. While she found it rewarding working in the community, she wanted to do more. Then one of her customers, a pharmacy director at Harlem Hospital, encouraged her to try hospital pharmacy.

Dr. Powell applied for and was offered a registered pharmacist job with St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center. She threw herself into work with enthusiasm, volunteering for everything from backing up computerized pharmacy records to learning all about then-upcoming USP <797> regulations and developing plans for a compliant I.V. room. She soon moved up to an inpatient pharmacy supervisor and developed numerous specialty satellite pharmacies throughout the hospital.

Valuable Mentorship

Because of her expertise, Dr. Powell found herself giving talks to the New York City Society of Health-System Pharmacists. At first, she wasn’t sure how to balance work and being involved in professional pharmacy societies with family life. But her supervisor and mentor, Harvey Maldow, R.Ph., believed it was so important she participate that he told Dr. Powell’s husband that he had to watch their young children while she attended meetings. She became the second African-American president of the group.

During her acceptance speech, Dr. Powell discussed mentoring and her philosophy of “Each one, teach one,” based on every mentee helping pull up someone behind them. The vice president of pharmacy at New York-Presbyterian Hospital was impressed and approached her about a director job. Maldow encouraged her to apply.

Today, Dr. Powell oversees pharmacy operations for three of the health system’s 11 hospitals, and oversees around 600 pharmacy employees. Besides her work tasks, Powell continues to make mentoring a priority, promoting good communication skills and lifelong education. She’s proud to have encouraged many technicians to become pharmacists.

“We meet on a regular basis because I don’t want to just tell people something and then hope they’ll follow it through; I try to work with them one-on-one to help them achieve whatever goals we’ve set out for them,” she said.

Community Service

Dr. Powell also maintains close ties to her community, serving for many years as a Sunday school teacher and member of the health committee at her church. Powell brings in guest speakers on topics important to their membership, such as hypertension and diabetes. One speaker, celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon Mehmet Oz (TV’s “Dr. Oz”), awarded free gym memberships to a few audience members. She also has been a special events coordinator for the Harlem Little League. More recently, Powell supervised a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at her church run by her hospital.

“I try to do a lot of things to help our community, and I do whatever I can to propel the practice of pharmacy,” she said. To that end, Dr. Powell serves on the Board of Directors for Long Island University’s College of Pharmacy and has given guest lectures at Touro College of Pharmacy. In 2009, she was the first African-American president of the New York State Council of Health-System Pharmacists.

ASHP Leadership       

Dr. Powell also has been very active in ASHP, serving over the years as a delegate as well as on several committees, including the Council on Education and Workforce Development and the Committee on Nominations. In 2020, Dr. Powell was honored to be invited to join ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Dr. Powell and her colleagues celebrate receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Our social and justice systems are broken, and conscious and unconscious racism exists,” she said. “We talked a lot about institutional racism, which sometimes has been embedded as a normal practice within a society or organization. We made some changes in the structure of how things will be done to assure equity for all members. I don’t think people realize how institutional racism can lead to such issues as discrimination in employment, health care, and even with access to the [COVID-19] vaccine.”

The group suggested some changes to ASHP policies, Dr. Powell said, one being that a person can only run for a board position if they had just been a delegate. “That eliminates a lot of people,” she said. The group recommended that members did not have to have delegate experience to run for a board office. They also changed governance so the chair of the house of delegates no longer presides over the nominations committee, which could be a conflict of interest.

“We opened it up so that more people would have the opportunity to run for office,” she said. “We’re going to make mentoring a big part of the process.”

Dr. Powell stands out because of her intelligence, her mentorship, her compassion, and her ability to listen to people and understand their needs, Maldow noted.

“She’s one of the best people I ever worked with in terms of how she managed both down and up, and the staff adored her,” he said. “When I look at the people I mentored in my career, she’s on the top in how successful she has been, and it’s a credit to her, not me. The only thing I take credit for is being able to identify her potential. She’s a great health-system pharmacist and someone people should model themselves after.”

 

By Karen Blum

February 17, 2021

Pharmacy Leader Promotes Diversity, Mentorship, and Community Service

Vivian Bradley Johnson, Pharm.D., M.B.A., FASHP

On her 60th birthday, Vivian Bradley Johnson, Pharm.D., M.B.A., FASHP, senior vice president of clinical services at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, performed the kind of selfless acts that have marked her career to date.

“I wanted essential workers to know how much I appreciated the work they’ve been doing during the pandemic, so I gave them certificates and gift cards, and I also prepared baskets for the homeless and the elderly,” she said. “It was a full day all about others, not me.”

A life of service is what brought Dr. Johnson to pharmacy in the first place. Originally from Lake City, Florida, she was inspired by several members of her community, including a couple of retail pharmacists her family entrusted with their health, and a Black community pharmacist within her church whom she admired.

Thirty-five years after starting out as a practicing pharmacist, Dr. Johnson has become an ASHP fellow with a career distinguished by numerous successful initiatives. For example, she helped launch ASHP’s investigational drug service network after identifying a need for such a group.

Since taking up employment at Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dr. Johnson established the health system’s first central fill pharmacy, which processes 6,000 outpatient prescriptions daily. She also developed several medication safety programs, created a variety of pharmacist-led clinical initiatives, and helped bring pharmacists to the patients’ bedside.

Pharmacist Diversity

One of Dr. Johnson’s greatest passions and a principle that has guided her work has been increasing diversity within the pharmacy workforce, among pharmacy leaders, and in academia. That focus on diversity recently earned her a spot on ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), where Dr. Johnson said she is eager to help find ways to enhance ASHP’s diversity on every level, from governance to products, services, and member communication.

According to Carrie A. Berge Pharm.D., M.S., vice president of pharmacy services at Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dr. Johnson is the right person for the job, having helped ensure leadership and staff at her health system represent the community they serve.

Dr. Johnson completed her undergraduate pharmacy degree at Florida A&M University, a HBCU.

“Vivian has spoken about leadership development and diversity to the entire organization throughout her career, and she has mentored many students, residents, and college interns and supports her community through extensive work with various charitable and social organizations,” said Dr. Berge.

Something Dr. Johnson hopes to help ASHP do in the coming years is recruit more individuals from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), a source of talent that Dr. Johnson said has been historically neglected.

“There’s a bias and belief that I think some people still carry, which is that the quality of education at HBCUs is not equal to other colleges and universities. I strongly disagree with that, and we need to overcome that bias,” Dr. Johnson insisted, noting that she herself completed her undergraduate pharmacy degree at Florida A&M University, a historically Black university.

While a sizeable portion of ASHP members are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Dr. Johnson said she wants to “reach out a little further to minority practitioners and students so they know how ASHP membership can benefit them.”

In addition to better communicating membership benefits, Dr. Johnson would like to offer additional services, which include helping students and young practitioners find mentorship opportunities. “I didn’t go from being a staff pharmacist to senior vice president of clinical services on my own,” she said. “It was so important for me to have leaders and mentors to guide me.”

Dr. Johnson recalled that as a new practitioner she would attend ASHP Midyear meetings with the intent of connecting and finding support from others who had been in the profession for longer. She saw this as a benefit of ASHP membership.

“I was very self-motivated and reached out to leaders in pharmacy that I looked up to, but others may not feel as comfortable approaching people, so we need to offer resources and avenues to facilitate mentorship relationships,” Dr. Johnson said.

Diversity and Patient Care

Ensuring more BIPOC community members take pharmacy leadership positions will also be critical to sharing important insights into the culture and the types of challenges that diverse communities face, Dr. Johnson noted. “We need to know where there are health care disparities and how pharmacists can help eliminate those disparities,” she said.

While pharmacists provide direct care for chronic diseases and medication therapy management, she said not everyone gets equal access to this care. “A better understanding of the populations that are at risk of being underserved and the social determinants that affect their access to resources will help us make sure they get the best possible pharmaceutical care,” Dr. Johnson said.

Pursue Your Ambitions

Although there is much more work to do to improve diversity in the pharmacy community, Dr. Johnson hopes her own career growth can inspire BIPOC students and practitioners to strive towards their ambitions, “even when it may not appear that an opportunity is there for you.”

She believes that each person should go after whatever they would like to do within the pharmacy profession. “If that means reaching out to a person you’d like as a mentor, reach out to them,” Dr. Johnson explained. “For example, if you want to write an article, take the initiative and connect with someone who has published, and ask them for help. There are leaders in pharmacy who are willing to help and guide you.”

 

By David Wild

 

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January 12, 2021

Pharm.D. Candidate is a Long-Time Champion for Diversity

Jeffrey Clark is a fourth-year Pharm.D. Candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy.

AFTER GRADUATING FROM a Bachelor of Science program, Jeffrey Clark was torn between applying to pharmacy school or medical school. As fate would have it, that hesitation dissipated when Clark entered the post-undergraduate working world.

While working as a program and wellness manager at the University System of Georgia, Clark was surprised to find out that pharmacists worked in managed care positions. “I’d always thought of pharmacists as being limited to the retail setting,” Clark said.

Discovering the range of options available to pharmacists and feeling gratification from helping individuals achieve better health through the wellness programs inspired Clark to pursue a career in pharmacy.

Diversity Leadership

As a fourth-year Pharm.D. Candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy in Suwanee, Georgia, Clark’s professional interests include pharmacy operations management, medication safety, and quality assurance. His plan at the moment, however, is to pursue a two-year residency in health-system pharmacy administration and leadership.

That choice of specialization is a natural one for Clark, who serves in several leadership roles, including Chair of the ASHP Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee and as a student representative to the ASHP House of Delegates.

Clark is perhaps most passionate about being a leader in diversity. This interest was sparked in high school, where he spearheaded the formation of diversity groups, and a task force. “I remember explaining to [my high school’s] administration that we didn’t have a diversity-focused organization and that we needed to hold a conversation around the topic,” he said. After speaking up and voicing his concerns, Clark was asked to start a campus diversity organization.

Clark was called on again to lead diversity initiatives at college, where the campus president asked him to facilitate a task force on the issue, with the goal of finding ways to recruit individuals from underserved communities to college positions. “Those discussions ultimately led us to build awareness among faculty and staff and promote discussions on matters related to race,” he recalled.

Clark’s rich history of diversity leadership has led him to his current position as a member of the ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). His mentor, Joshua Blackwell, Pharm.D., clinical pharmacy manager, ambulatory services, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, is excited to see what Clark will help achieve during his tenure on the ASHP DEI Task Force.

“When the call to action came from ASHP, Jeffrey immediately contacted me and expressed interest in serving as the student voice on the DEI Task Force,” said Dr. Blackwell. “I think one of Jeffrey’s greatest strengths is that he understands and listens to what other students around the country say their challenges and opportunities are within pharmacy schools. He wants to help them at every stage of their journey.”

Diverse Mentors, Leaders, and Students

Clark has reached impressive heights as a leader, but the path as a black male has come with some challenges. “I initially struggled to find a leader in pharmacy that I really connected with and felt comfortable telling my life story to, and I partly attribute that to not having someone who looks like me,” Clark said.

Although he eventually found leaders who supported and guided him, that lack of an early connection may have translated to some missed opportunities, he believes. “There are lots of opportunities available to pharmacy students, but you have to know about them and figure out where to put your time and effort,” Clark said. “If you don’t have a mentor to guide you, that can be difficult.”

Clark hopes to dedicate part of his time on the ASHP DEI Task Force to ensuring that other potential and current pharmacy students do not similarly miss out on opportunities. Promoting awareness to communities and schools that have historically been less of a focus for pharmacy schools is one way he believes this can be done. Sharing the stories and achievements of diverse members of the pharmacy community should also make students feel more comfortable and interested in getting involved with pharmacy organizations, Clark believes.

“People of color sometimes don’t feel like they stand a chance, and they don’t see how they’re going to find a mentor or some kind of connection to break through racial barriers,” he said. “We need to be proactive in seeking out people from diverse backgrounds and to communicate better with them to let them know, ‘Hey, you can do this!’”

Practitioner Diversity Improves Patient Care

Clark is a member of the ASHP Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Clark believes that having practitioners that represent the mirror the diverse range of patient backgrounds – whether it is race, sex, or socioeconomic level – can help improve the quality of care that individuals receive.

For example, he recalls finding some patients from minority backgrounds reluctant to share information with the hospital rounding team during some of his patient rounds. While the sheer size of a large medical team may have intimidated them, “in some cases where the patient we treated was black, I noticed that when I went into the room alone, they would be much more open to talking,” Clark recalled. “There are some people that feel more comfortable talking to a person who is like them.”

For all the reasons that diversity is so important to him, Clark is excited about the changes he and his peers stand to make through ASHP’s DEI Task Force. “Diversity is already happening,” he said. “We’re working hand-in-hand with ASHP staff to make sure we find every opportunity to grow, and to develop policies and accountability systems that keep us expanding our diversity, not just once, but on an ongoing basis.”

By David Wild

 

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November 30, 2020

ASHP’s Midyear Clinical Meeting is Unstoppable

Dear Colleagues,

The 55th Annual Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition is about to kick off! We have a wonderful week ahead packed with world-class educational programming, exciting speakers, and opportunities to connect with colleagues and enrich your practice. This year’s theme is “Unstoppable,” and more than 23,000 attendees will have the opportunity to come together, Dec. 6 –10, on our virtual platform to knowledge share, network, and experience the largest gathering of pharmacists in the world in a new and unique way. Registration will remain open through Dec. 10, so there is still time to register and take advantage of everything the meeting has to offer.

We are delighted to welcome our keynote speaker, award-winning actor, producer, director, and COVID-19 survivor, Tom Hanks, on the morning of Monday, Dec. 7. We are also very pleased to welcome Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joining us on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Please note that these special events will only be available for viewing during the scheduled session days and times. You don’t want to miss these extraordinary speakers.

The 2020 Midyear also features:

  • More than 175 hours of continuing education
  • More than 4,600 posters
  • 1,328 booths in the Residency Showcase (29% increase over 2019)
  • 132 exhibitors/booths

The Midyear Clinical Meeting is the longest, continually running clinical pharmacy meeting in the world. This year, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, ASHP promises to bring you an unstoppable Midyear, offering the most timely and relevant content to support contemporary practice and the best possible patient care.

Our 55th meeting brings together our profession’s best and brightest subject matter experts who will share their knowledge about current pharmacy practice in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

The distribution and administration of the anticipated COVID-19 vaccines are top of mind and on Monday, Dec. 7, ASHP will hold the first of two late-breaking COVID-19 vaccine sessions. Monday’s session will focus on clinical considerations. A second session will be held on Wednesday, with a focus on operational considerations. In addition to the late-breaking vaccine sessions, we have 18 relevant and informative sessions that will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments related to COVID-19 response and recovery.

Monday will also feature a special Town Hall hosted by Paul C. Walker, Pharm.D., FASHP, chair of the ASHP Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. Walker will present the Task Force’s draft recommendations for new and enhanced efforts ASHP should take to address issues of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion impacting Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The Task Force will consider feedback from the Town Hall and other channels in preparing a final report and recommendations to submit to the ASHP Board of Directors in January 2021.

This year’s Midyear marks the first anniversary of the ASHP Innovation Center. The center seeks to elevate the vital role hospital and health-system pharmacy practitioners play in new and emerging science, and position pharmacy practitioners as influencers in developing systems that advance patient safety and quality care. This year’s Midyear offers a wealth of programming dedicated to implementing and using innovative strategies and solutions to further pharmacy practice, including two critical on-demand sessions: Innovations in Drug Information Practice and Research; and Advanced and Innovative Roles in the Specialty Pharmacy Setting. Later in the week, on Thursday, Dec. 10, we have a session highlighting the pros and cons of new technologies that have improved patient care safety and efficiency.

As part of the ASHP Innovation Center, the ASHP Foundation is currently accepting applications for a competitive grant program to support projects that demonstrate the impact of optimizing health information technology and digital transformation that enhance safe and effective use of medications. The grant program is available for interprofessional healthcare teams with a pharmacist as principal investigator. The deadline for applications is Feb. 4, 2021.

I encourage attendees to check out the ASHP Midyear Virtual Posters. With our virtual platform, you can review poster PDFs and audio clips summarizing each project. Authors will be available for real-time video Q & A chats alongside their virtual posters.

These are just a handful of the highlights from the largest gathering of pharmacists in the world. Be sure to follow us on social media @ASHPOfficial and #ASHP2020 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and look for News & Views, the official Midyear newspaper, which will be delivered digitally to all attendees via a daily e-mail. Also, be sure to check out ashptv.com for daily interviews, member stories, and content.

The success of this unstoppable Midyear Clinical Meeting is due to the tremendous work of hundreds of ASHP members and staff, and we are pleased to showcase their efforts and share this event with you.

Finally, I would like to wish all of our members a safe and healthy holiday season. Thank you for being a member of ASHP and for all you do for your patients and our profession during these very challenging times.

Sincerely,

Paul

September 30, 2020

Sense of Community and Social Justice Characterize Pharmacy School Deans

Dean Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.B.A., M.P.H.

EVERY DAY, AS SHE WALKS THROUGH THE LOBBY of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Dean Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., passes a wall covered with the portraits of all eight of the college’s deans to date. While all have made important academic and clinical contributions, there is a distinct contrast between her portrait and the seven pictures that precede hers: all of the deans leading up to her were white males.

Addressing social inequalities

“Funny enough, it wasn’t until my students pointed out how impactful it was to have my picture up on the wall that I noticed how striking the difference between me and the deans before me was,” said Dr. Chisholm-Burns, who has been an ASHP member for over 25 years. “I hope that when people see my picture up there, they dwell on possibilities that they may not have otherwise considered.”

Dr. Chisholm-Burns was recently named a UTHSC Distinguished Professor and the Chair of ASHP’s new Section of Pharmacy Educators Executive Committee. Throughout her career and during her deanship, Dr. Chisholm-Burns has made it a priority to address social inequalities. For example, she has made an effort to ensure equal access to education, which she sees as a civil rights issue by cutting tuition costs. “I came from a humble background, so I know that the cost of college can be prohibitive, and I also know that education can help lead you out of poverty,” she said.

Gender inequality has been another target of Dr. Chisholm-Burns’s energy. Before becoming dean, she was involved in an initiative that taught economically disadvantaged young girls how to play chess to encourage them to pursue their aspirations.

“In chess, if you advance your pawn all the way to the other side of the board, you can change it into any piece – except for the king – but many would say the most powerful piece on the board is a queen,” said Dr. Chisholm-Burns. “The message, which I think is a strong one, is that your future is not necessarily dictated by your past.”

On her own career path, one accomplishment Dr. Chisholm-Burns has been incredibly proud of is establishing the Medication Access Program, which provides access to treatment for solid organ transplant recipients.

“As a clinical pharmacist working with transplant patients, I noticed that the cost of medications sometimes prevented people from being adherent to their medications,” she said. “That bothered me a lot, and I felt an obligation to improve the situation.”

With a long list of achievements to date and a long career still ahead of her, there is every indication that Dr. Chisholm-Burns will continue to help right the wrongs that she sees around her, whether in the clinic, the college, or the community.

“As long as there are social injustices out there, I would like to be a part of efforts to address them,” she said.

A responsive leader

For Natalie Eddington, Ph.D., FAAPS, FCP, Dean of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, being a good leader has meant serving her faculty and students, and also the residents of her city.

Dean Natalie Eddington, Ph.D., FAAPS, FCP

During her 12 years as dean, she has been involved in several initiatives aimed at improving the lives of those around her. For example, she co-leads the university’s Center of Addiction Research, Education and Service – or CARES – which employs faculty and students to address the impact of addiction on Baltimore’s communities.

“Addiction is one of those things that we might not necessarily want to talk about, but it is really important to treat if we want to improve the lives of those in the community and our school,” Dr. Eddington said.

Dr. Eddington has tried to be a responsive leader on campus, tending to students and readying them to thrive after graduation. She has led the roll-out of innovative pharmacy degrees in regulatory science, pharmaceutical metrics, palliative care, and even the first Master of Science program in the country focusing specifically on medical cannabis.

“The practice of pharmacy today is nothing like it was when I graduated over 20 years ago, and we have to prepare students to meet the demands of this new world,” she said.

An initiative at the college that Dr. Eddington is particularly proud of is the “Pharmapreneurism” program, which teaches students the innovative mindset that enterprising pharmacists need to reach their career aspirations. “Students who want to go out and change the way we practice pharmacy need to have the confidence and knowledge to do things differently,” she said.

Recently, Dr. Eddington has focused on increasing diversity in academic pharmacy, which she has found remains a priority. In her research, she discovered that the number of pharmacy schools almost doubled over a recent 10-year period, but diversity in academic pharmacy hasn’t changed much.

“We need diversity because it widens what we know and what we understand as healthcare professionals treating patients from diverse backgrounds. It makes sure we implement in practice the ways that are most appropriate for our patients,” Dr. Eddington emphasized.

Cheerleader-in-Chief

When long-time ASHP member Toyin Tofade, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS, CPCC, FFIP, took up the office of Dean at Howard University’s College of Pharmacy in Washington, D.C., in 2016she found an abundance of impressive work being done by faculty and students alike, but discovered that their achievements were “one of the best-kept secrets around.”

Dean Toyin Tofade, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS, CPCC, FFIP

“I was surprised by how many contributions were going unrecognized, so I decided to adopt the role of cheerleader-in-chief,” said Dr. Tofade, who was recently appointed to ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

One of the first things she did as cheerleader-in-chief was let her faculty and students know that their work was valued by publishing an annual report and a weekly e-newsletter celebrating their accomplishments.

Like Drs. Chisholm-Burns and Eddington, Dr. Tofade has made it a priority to address inequalities in the college and the wider community. She co-directs a center to help individuals from unrepresented minority backgrounds prepare for undergraduate and professional STEM and healthcare professions. Under her leadership, the college is planning to place clinical pharmacists in independent community pharmacies to implement ambulatory care services.

Having those services in place will help “transform practice in the District” and ensure lower-income community members have access to medication therapy management and basic chronic disease care, she noted. “These are the kinds of things we need here in D.C., where the health of some communities is very low,” said Dr. Tofade.

Further afield, Dr. Tofade has been working with the International Pharmaceutical Federation, which collaborates with the World Health Organization to implement pharmacy care and related policies in developing countries. Serving in multiple roles and paying her success forward, she mentors budding academic pharmacy leaders abroad so that they can make their mark in the field.

“I feel very privileged and honored to be working to help transform pharmacy education and support academic pharmacy leaders around the world,” she said of this experience.

And with trademark humility, Dr. Tofade acknowledged that while her ambitions have been critical to getting to where she is today, the help of others has been as instrumental to her success.

“I am so grateful to God, my mentors, and supervisors who have taken the time over the years to invest in my growth as a leader,” she said.

 

By David Wild

 

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