Aren’t vaccines the most wonderful tool in our toolboxes? While there are still so many uncertainties associated with our individual and collective behaviors in month 16 of the global pandemic, I personally have found that the increasing percentage of the eligible population to have received at least one dose of available vaccines very reassuring, even liberating.
AACP is pleased to be contributing to efforts to bolster vaccine confidence in our partnership with the American Pharmacists Association. APhA received a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to amplify pharmacists’ voices to mitigate vaccine hesitancy. We are targeting five pilot communities in areas where data from earlier this year exposed higher rates of hesitancy based on myriad surveys. Schools in or near these target markets are collaborating with a wide variety of community partners in unique and creative ways between June and September. A program featuring these examples is part of AACP’s Virtual 2021 Annual Meeting. We hope that the ideas presented will stimulate more schools to partner with other community organizations so that cities, counties and states across the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late summer. This is so essential to fulfill our desire to get our learners back in school from K-12 through professional degree programs this year.
The articles in this issue of Academic Pharmacy Now highlight the opportunities pharmacists have in both public health and direct patient care in a variety of contexts. Pharmacists play key roles assisting patients, families and other clinicians to appreciate the complex issues of prescription drug prices and to advocate for affordability and promote adherence to therapy. Pharmacists, as the most accessible health professionals, have equally important roles to play in addressing deficiencies in our communities that perpetuate health inequities and disparities in minoritized populations.
That being said, those quoted in these articles identify that we as an academic community must look critically at the Pharm.D. curriculum and ask the hard questions about whether areas such as pharmacoeconomics, systemic racism, cultural humility and engagement with diverse populations are currently adequately covered in our very full curricula and accreditation standards. Attracting underrepresented learners has long been a priority of AACP yet analyses reveal that we have collectively moved the needle only slightly. Insufficient numbers of students of color restrict our ability to also achieve diversity in our faculty and administrative ranks.
AACP’s 2021–24 strategic plan pending approval by the delegates to the 2021 House of Delegates elevates our work on academic innovation and diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism to new levels of priority. We look forward to working in partnership with all of our members on these efforts. Together, I know we can make progress and in turn achieve our vision of creating a world of healthy people.
Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., R.Ph.
CEO and Publisher