The McKesson Foundation is on a mission to help increase diversity of the pharmacy workforce and improve overall health outcomes for vulnerable populations by donating more than $4.1 million to pharmacy schools at Hampton University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of New Mexico. The grants, which range from one to five years, will support various pharmacy school education and community outreach programs.
“The innovative student support, professional development, and community outreach that the McKesson Foundation is funding through these pharmacy school partnerships will help transform patient-pharmacist interactions,” said Melissa Thompson, vice president of philanthropic giving and president of the McKesson Foundation. “We believe these partnerships will lead to improved health equity and patient outcomes for vulnerable populations in their respective areas, as well as establish program templates that can be replicated in other locations.”
Research shows patients often have better outcomes — and believe their chances of being heard are better—when their clinician shares a similar cultural background; however, the modest representation of Black (7.6%), Hispanic (4.6%) and Indigenous (1%) pharmacists lags behind the overall diversity in the U.S. Improving diverse representation, as well as cultural competency skills across the profession, can lead to more inclusive care and drive better patient outcomes.
With the United States currently experiencing a primary care doctor shortage, and more than 90% of Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people often visit their local pharmacist more regularly than their primary care doctor. It’s critical to ensure more students in underrepresented populations pursue careers as pharmacists and are well prepared to serve all patients.
The Foundation sought partnerships that would support one or more of the following:
- Increase diversity recruitment and retention;
- Prepare students for the role of modern pharmacist; and
- Develop and leverage pharmacists’ extensive training, community presence, and public trust to serve vulnerable and rural patient populations.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, for example, will use this gift to create the McKesson Foundation Caring for the Underserved: Creating Awareness and Responsiveness through Education (CARE) Program to educate and train pharmacy students and pharmacists to recognize and address health disparities for patients and populations in underserved and rural areas.
At the University of New Mexico, a portion of the grant will help expand capacity to engage, recruit, and prepare diverse students for the College of Pharmacy. The College of Pharmacy recruits underrepresented high school and undergraduate students from underserved areas across New Mexico and invites them to participate in existing residential and non-residential summer preparatory programs.
“Pharmacies are becoming healthcare destinations,” said Eyad Farah, President of Pharmacy and Healthcare Solutions at McKesson Corporation. “McKesson Corporation is proud of the great work the McKesson Foundation is doing. Each of the pharmacy schools the McKesson Foundation is partnering with understands that the role of pharmacists is changing. The schools’ efforts to increase the diversity of their students, as well as students’ exposure to advanced pharmacy services, is critical to developing a pharmacist workforce that can meet the evolving needs of patients and our healthcare system.”
Presented by McKesson.