Pharmacy Schools Council to ensure BAME patient communities are ‘properly reflected’ in MPharm curriculum

The Pharmacy Schools Council has recognised that “more needs to be done” to ensure that people of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are supported and represented in pharmacy education.

Student in lecture hall

The Pharmacy Schools’ Council (PhSC) has said it will conduct an “examination of teaching practices and materials” in the MPharm curriculum to ensure that it properly reflects black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) patient communities.

In a statement on enhanced support for BAME students and colleagues, published on 1 July 2020, the PhSC said that the move will help to “develop graduates who are able to deliver culturally competent pharmaceutical care”.

“There are many ways in which both health outcomes and health interventions can be affected by a patient’s cultural and socio-economic background,” the statement said.

“We acknowledge that further work needs to be done to ensure that our curricula more accurately reflect the needs and aspirations of all the communities our graduates will serve.”

The PhSC also noted that “more needs to be done in our institutions to actively promote equity, particularly for our black students and staff but also for other minority ethnic groups”.

To address this, the organisation said it will encourage people from BAME communities to apply for roles, and to ensure representation on interview and selection panels.

It added that it will “actively encourage more black students to pursue careers in research (especially at PhD level) so as to produce the next generation of academic and scientific leaders with suitable diversity”.

The position statement also recognised that more needs to be done to address ”the reduction of the award gap”, and to support people through application for, and completion of, the preregistration year.

Elsy Gomez Campos, president of the UK Black Pharmacists’ Association, welcomed the statement but said it was “well-overdue” and “just the start”.

“Now we need to see actual actions implemented and followed up at every single pharmacy school,” she said.

Gomez Campos emphasised that “different BAME groups experience discrimination differently, so any strategy must be tailored to the specific needs of BAME groups”.

“Positive results and quick, palpable outcomes will only be achieved if BAME staff and students are included in the design and delivery of action plans and strategies,” she continued.

“We are a very diverse profession, and we need the support and understanding of non-BAME pharmacy professionals, so that together we can become an example of what equality and diversity should look like”.

Rhys Llewellyn, spokesperson for the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA), said: ”Preregistration results have been shown to vary widely between racial groups — especially black students — and given the particularly challenging year for education and training the ongoing pandemic presents, it is right to offer every support to trainees at this time.”

He added that the BPSA would “fully support educational reform to introduce greater understanding of healthcare inequalities experienced by many groups”, and that the Association had created a petition calling for pharmacy schools to include BAME representation in their teaching.

“Investigations into the impacts of COVID-19 have found some ethnic minority groups are particularly at risk, highlighting wider inequalities that will intersect with our healthcare system,” Llewellyn said.

“We feel it is absolutely right to integrate these matters in the pharmacy curriculum.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ July 2020, Vol 305, No 7939;305(7939):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208139

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