St. John’s Student Pharmacists Embrace and Contribute to the Diversity and Traditions of Those They Serve

Community Connected and CPESN Logos
November 15, 2023

St. John’s University Doctor of Pharmacy students are getting valuable exposure to the traditions and celebrations of the communities they serve through an innovative program designed to enhance their sensitivity to diverse cultures and ethnicities.

The Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN) develops tools and resources focused on educating pharmacy teams and the communities they work with on traditions and celebrations of a diversity of religious, ethnic, and special interest group backgrounds. These resources will be shared with the more than 3,500 community pharmacies engaged with CPESN networks.

Maria Marzella Mantione, Pharm.D., Clinical Professor, Clinical Health Professions, and Director, Doctor of Pharmacy Program in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, serves as a liaison between CPESN’s Academia-Community Transformation (ACT) and the College. The ACT Pharmacy Collaborative is an operational learning and acting collaborative between colleges of pharmacy and community pharmacy practices, including clinically integrated networks of community-based pharmacies.

“My role in this has been quite simple,” Dr. Mantione recalled. “Back in August, I received an email from CPESN, and shared it with students from the Doctor of Pharmacy classes of 2024 and 2025, encouraging them to apply.”

She added, “An experience like this benefits our students greatly by giving them an opportunity to provide expertise and guidance to pharmacists across the country. I am proud that several students elected to apply and share the knowledge and experiences of their cultural and religious practices to enhance the quality of care offered in thousands of community pharmacies throughout the country.”

Special interest groups include, but are not limited to: Alaskan, Arab, Asian, Buddhist, Caribbean, Daoist, Disability Pride, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Jewish, LGBTQ+, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Scottish.

Fifth-year Pharmacy Student John Gabriel C. Ortiz stressed that community pharmacy is the backbone of the pharmacy profession. “They are regarded as the most accessible health-care providers. The frequent interaction between patients and pharmacists makes it important for pharmacists to be able to competently interact with patients.”

He added, “Fostering a personable and culturally aware relationship with their patients allows pharmacists to be part of the community. Familiarity and trust between patient and pharmacist help pharmacists tailor their service to their patients and lets patients be transparent about their medication adherence and compliance. By providing independent pharmacists with resources for cultural awareness, I hope my efforts contribute to improving the care pharmacists give to their patients.”

John worked on resources for the CPESN initiative that aimed to educate pharmacists on the cultures of their patient populations. Along with another pharmacy student, he worked on a presentation that touched on a variety of topics about the Filipino population. The presentation included disease risk factors for Filipinos, Filipino cultural customs and celebrations, stereotypes Filipinos face, and general demographic information about the Filipino American population.

“Through the experience I was able to contribute to the cultural awareness of pharmacies integrated in CPESN,” he stressed. “I improved upon my writing and presentation skills. Overall, the experience was rewarding and allowed me to have an impact on pharmacies throughout the US.”

“As someone who was raised Buddhist and Vietnamese American, I found the possibility to explore public outreach within the pharmacy setting very compelling,” observed student Laura Pham, also a fifth-year student. “Currently, we are working on multiple materials, including a video, PowerPoint, and digital marketing tool meant to educate pharmacists specifically on Buddhist practices.”

“Throughout this time, Angelina Tucker, Pharm.D., Managing Network Facilitator at CESPN, has been a great guide with her unlimited knowledge and insightful advice. Although we have only just started, I am very excited for everyone to see what we come up with.”