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Empowering Pharmacists to Improve Hispanic Health

February 07, 2019 | Pharmacy

The NHPA Board of Directors
The National Hispanic Pharmacists Association Board of Directors.

Hispanics are currently the largest minority group in the United States. And yet, that population is underrepresented in health care fields, including pharmacy, with Hispanics making up only 4.5 percent of the 342,000 employed pharmacists across the country.

Understanding the importance of having a strong Hispanic representation within our workforce, CVS Health has partnered with the National Hispanic Health Foundation to create the National Hispanic Pharmacists Association (NHPA). The goal of the new organization is to improve the health of Hispanic communities by increasing the number of Hispanic pharmacists through scholarship and grant programs and other recruitment efforts, as well as to educate current pharmacists on language, culture and health disparities.

"CVS Health has a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, and for our company to thrive, we need a highly trained, culturally diverse health care workforce that is reflective of the communities we serve," said Lisa Bisaccia, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer for CVS Health, in an announcement about the new organization. "We are proud to be one of the founding corporate partners of the National Hispanic Pharmacists Association, and we look forward to working together to improve the health of Hispanic populations in the United States."

The organization will hold its first official gathering at the upcoming American Pharmacists Association Annual meeting in March 2019.

Longer term, the group plans to work with the NHPA to create student chapters at the more than 140 pharmacy schools nationwide. Chapters will educate pharmacy students on the need for healthcare professionals that support and address the unique health disparities that Hispanics face, as well as Spanish language fluency. These efforts will build upon the work CVS Health is already engaged in to actively recruit Hispanic pharmacists at these schools.

Serving Our Hispanic Communities

CVS Health’s role as a corporate partner with the NHPA fits within our ongoing strategic diversity initiatives aimed at better serving the Hispanic population.

This includes working with our Spanish-speaking pharmacists to place them, when possible, in locations where they will be most effective. CVS Pharmacy currently has nearly 700 stores with a customer base of 50 percent or more. These include our CVS Pharmacy y más locations, which offer the Hispanic community an enhanced, more personalized shopping experience, as well as Navarro, our 33-store chain located in South Florida.

In addition, we will continue to support Spanish language and culture education for our pharmacists through programs like Rosetta Stone and medical language learning service Canopy, as well as through the administration of cultural competency education at pharmacy schools.

Similar educational opportunities are also offered through our immersion internships which provide college students at accredited institutions with the opportunity to work within a Spanish-speaking community to enhance their language proficiency, to learn about the Hispanic culture, and to gain clinical experience.

To further encourage the development of Spanish-language skills among pharmacists, in 2018, we provided $206,000 in scholarships to bilingual pharmacy students through the CVS Health Foundation.