Black pharmacists are on the rise. According to a 2019 National Pharmacist Workforce Study (NPWS), the percentage of non-white licensed pharmacists increased by 46 percent, from 14.9 percent in 2014 to 21.8 percent in 2019, with the percentage of Black pharmacists more than doubling, from 2.3 percent to 4.9 percent respectively. Much of that increase is credited to Black women.
The strides in the pharmaceutical field have not come overnight, and are due, in part, to partnerships that have decreased barriers for entry and have opened up opportunities for Black pharmacy graduates. This week, Howard University announced another such collaboration. Partnering with France-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company, Sanofi, there are 10 new post-graduate fellowships in the College of Pharmacy for students earning PharmD degrees.
"At Sanofi, we recognize that work-force diversity correlates strongly with creativity, successful problem solving and visionary innovation,” says John Reed, MD., Ph.D., the Global Head of Research and Development at Sanofi. “This collaboration with Howard University will allow us the opportunity to foster the next generation of scientists from historically underrepresented communities. We look forward to working with the fellows as they begin their training and become Sanofi team members who will undoubtedly help contribute to frontier innovations as we bring the next generation of life-saving medicines to patients worldwide."
Upon successful completion of the program, Sanofi’s goal is to hire fellows into permanent full-time positions at the company, marking the first time an industry partner with the college has committed to post-fellowship employment.
Earl B. Ettienne, MBA, LP.D., RPh., the College of Pharmacy's director of graduate programs and industry partnerships, says the partnership reflects the college’s continued commitment to addressing real-world challenges with innovative solutions. "We pride ourselves in developing excellent men and women that are ready to contribute on day one and applaud Sanofi for joining us with a bold effort to create the next generation of leaders and researchers in the biopharmaceutical space."
Last July, Indiana-based Eskenazi Health Pharmacy sought to increase its own recruitment through an HBCU partnership. The company tapped PharmD students at Howard University, Hampton University, Florida A&M University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, giving participants an opportunity to begin their pharmacy residency in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)-accredited Eskenazi Health Post-Graduate Year 1 (PGY1) Pharmacy Residency Program.
While African Americans remain underrepresented in the medical field, pharmacists are helping to close a cultural gap that persists in the health care field. While pharmacists often find themselves at established drugstores upon completion of their studies, a number of Black PharmDs have carried on the traditions of the past and opened their own pharmacies within their community. Before the deconstruction of Jim Crow allowed Black patients to seek medicine outside of their neighborhoods, Black pharmacists catered to that need.