Taking steps toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion
This year, the School established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee made up of students, faculty, staff and alumni to initiate and support DEI initiatives across Pacific.
Marisella Guerrero ’98, PharmD, assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice, who serves as chair of the committee, identifies herself as Mexican American. During her first year as a Pacific faculty member, a group of students told her they were grateful to interact with a Latina faculty member. The conversation gave her a heightened awareness of the opportunity — and responsibility — to use her perspectiveto provide advice and guidance for students with a similar cultural background.
Doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) student Adam Aboubakare ’22 wanted to join the DEI Committee because of his passion for creating inclusive spaces. “No matter what the setting is, whether it is on your campus, in your organization, in your workplace or at home, every place can benefit from incorporating more DEI values,” said Aboubakare. He is the founding president of Pacific’s chapter of White Coats for Black Lives, a nationwide movement dedicated to dismantling racism and promoting the health and well-being of people of color by educating future health care professionals.
Aboubakare said there are two facets of DEI within health care: patient care and representation.
“When we consider DEI from a patient care aspect, we think about serving every patient to the best of our abilities no matter their background, race, sexuality, gender or other demographics,” he said. “We must put aside our own biases to provide them the best care they can receive.”
He believes it is also important for health care professionals to ask themselves, “How does my team embody diversity?”
The lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in health care can have life or death consequences. “We’ve seen that it leads to numerous health care disparities and can literally lead to people losing their lives because they don’t get the right care,” said Dr. Guerrero. “In the same way we place value and importance on learning about medications, pharmacists need to be committed to learning about inequities, biases and racism because of how much they affect a person’s health and well-being.”
“We’ve seen that it leads to numerous health care disparities and can literally lead to people losing their lives because they don’t get the right care.”
As one of their first initiatives, the committee examined the language used in the Oath of a Pharmacist and the School’s Pledge of Professionalism. The pledge is recited by first-year PharmD students at the annual White Coat Ceremony and universities have the freedom to modify the pledge. The School’s DEI committee recommended and received approval to modify the School’s pledge to include: “I will advocate for equitable health care for all.”
The oath is recited by graduates during commencement ceremonies at universities throughout the United States. The committee contacted the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the American Pharmacists Association to revise the oath. As a result, the Oath Revision Committee was created and Aboubakare was selected as the student representative. The revised oath is expected to be voted on in November, with the hope of being incorporated into the commencement ceremonies of the Class of 2022, which holds special significance to Aboubakare as he is a member of that class.
This year, the committee launched Diversity Perspectives, a newsletter that provides a safe space for members in the Pacific community to share cultural insights from a personal perspective about current events. They also implemented a training course that will equip faculty and staff to become agents of change who feel empowered to lead transformative social justice initiatives within and beyond the School.
Dr. Guerrero and Aboubakare encourage people to explore how they can promote DEI values in their communities. “Being open to learning, being compassionate and having empathy is really all you need,” Dr. Guerrero said.
School’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2020-21 Committee
Adam Aboubakare ’22
Aasim Ahmed ’22
Iris Chang ’20, PharmD
Suzanne Galal, PharmD
Marisella Guerrero ’98, PharmD
Athena Hagan ’23
Stephanie Luu ’20, PharmD
Chi Nguyen ’93, PharmD
Shannon Quijano ’15, PharmD
Mark Stackpole, MA, EdD
Melany Thomas ’21, PharmD
Alyssa (Hobby) Wu ’13, PharmD