The year 2020 is one like none other we have experienced. A global pandemic dawned early in the year and brought its full force to the United States in February and March. Forced shutdowns, except for “essential services” that included the work of pharmacists on the frontlines, shuttered businesses and imposed economic hardship on individuals and commerce. By late spring and throughout the summer, horrifying examples of police brutality, almost exclusively against people of color, sparked protests that turned to violence and destruction of property in many communities. And all of this has happened against the backdrop of the elections of 2020. Some characterize the upcoming November election as the most important in our country’s history.
Conversations about structural racism and the need for change have begun within AACP at the staff, leadership and member levels. It was a central theme in Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew’s Opening General Session presentation to kick off the Virtual Annual Meeting programming. The intersectionality of health disparities, structural racism and the disproportionate incidence of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality among populations of color forces us all to examine what we have and have not done as health professionals and educators to address the underlying issues of racism and its impact on communities.
As reflected in the articles in this issue of Academic Pharmacy Now, several member institutions have fortified their efforts over the past several years in admissions, curricula and research to achieve specific goals for their institutions and the communities they serve. Pipeline programs that start with kindergarteners, mobile clinics that take care throughout a rural county poorly served by traditional delivery systems, and students and faculty engaged in diverse and far-reaching community service activities that are jointly developed with members of the communities being served are excellent examples of how colleges and schools of pharmacy can make a difference.
AACP has done some work on diversity and inclusion to date. Programs like Dean Matthew’s keynote have been part of several AACP member and leadership programs in past years. Former President David Allen formed a task force aimed at increasing the diversity in the pool of candidates for AACP offices, especially at the Board of Directors level. This year’s slate of candidates represents progress in our goal to have our board reflect the diversity of our membership.
Making a significant difference in health disparities and structural racism is a marathon rather than a sprint. Our Institute on Diversity and Inclusion, to be held virtually in January 2021 jointly with the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, will provide participating schools stimulating content that is intended to deepen our individual and collective understanding and commitment to realizing AACP’s vision for a healthier society with equal opportunities for ALL.
Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., R.Ph.
CEO and Publisher