Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy (LLUSP) will establish the nation’s first Hispanic Center of Excellence in Pharmacy after receiving a federal grant last week of $3.4 million.
As a Center of Excellence, LLUSP will provide educational and training opportunities for the Latinx community, increase Hispanic representation among pharmacists, and address minority health issues throughout the Inland Empire.
The grant was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration — an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — which funds initiatives for those who are medically vulnerable.
“We are very pleased to be awarded this grant in support of our commitment to diversity in the profession of pharmacy,” said Michael Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, dean of Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy.
Hogue said LLU will be the first school or college of pharmacy in the nation to house an HRSA Hispanic Center of Excellence (HCEP). The center will be achieved through a unique collaboration with the LLU School of Behavioral Health, he said.
Hogue said Latinx pharmacists are uniquely positioned to serve their communities. “A shared cultural understanding allows pharmacists to break communication barriers and provide medical interventions relevant to the patient,” he said.
“The Center will strengthen San Bernardino County and the surrounding area’s capacity to produce a pharmacy workforce with racial and ethnic diversity, improving the quality and delivery of healthcare through collaborations and strategic partnerships,” Hogue said. HCEP partners include Inland Empire Health Plan, SAC Health, El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center, and San Bernardino City Unified School District.
The Center’s program director, Willie Davis, PhD, assistant dean of academic success at LLU School of Pharmacy, said the HCEP will provide targeted financial support and innovative educational programs to recruit, train, and retain Hispanic students and faculty at LLUSP.
“Our goal is to improve health outcomes for underserved members of our community,” Davis said. “HCEP’s programs will train Hispanic and other underrepresented minority pharmacy students in behavioral health issues, social determinants of health, and cultural competency. These students will, with LLUSP faculty, provide pharmacy services in community-based settings remote from our main campus in Loma Linda.”
“Our program goals will be achieved when we increase the number of Hispanic doctor of pharmacy clinicians and educators,” Davis said.