UK College of Pharmacy Committed to Student Diversity

Jan 24, 2007

The University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy not only welcomed one of the largest classes in its history in fall 2006, but also it’s most diverse. The class of 2010 has the highest minority enrollment in the program’s history with 22 minority students, including 11African-American students. Previous classes generally have had about five to eight percent minority students.

“We are committed to educating future pharmacists that will help reduce the shortage in Kentucky and to do this properly, it is important to have a diverse student body that will help all our future pharmacists in achieving our mission to better serve the Commonwealth,” said Dean Kenneth B. Roberts, Ph.D.

While faculty and school officials welcome a more diverse enrollment, they acknowledge it has taken several years of laying groundwork to reach this milestone. For the past five years the College has given special focus to recruiting and retaining a more diverse student population. ”We created and implemented a strategic plan to increase diversity in our enrollment as well as devoted more resources to minority recruitment,” said William C. Lubawy, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs. “This year we are pleased to see the results of these efforts.”

Along with providing information and speaking to students and parents at University-sponsored recruitment events and career fairs, the College has taken a personalized approach to tracking undergraduate minority students that have expressed an interest in pharmacy or health professional programs. However, reaching out to undergraduate students is not the only way to recruit future pharmacy students. “We’ve learned you can’t wait until students get to college to begin promoting pharmacy school. It is important to engage younger students and educate them as early as middle school about the pharmacy profession and the health care career opportunities that exist,” said Vicki Henderson, UK College of Pharmacy director of recruitment.

Students also have to know what they need to do in high school, such as taking every advanced science and math course offered at their school, to get them ready for the college curriculum that eventually will prepare them for pharmacy school admission, she added.

Along with recruiting, retaining a diverse student also is imperative. ”We hope the activities and programs being offered once students are enrolled will be a significant factor in providing an inviting multicultural environment,” Lubawy said.

Last fall, all incoming pharmacy students participated in Ba’Fa’BaFa, a culture simulation game designed to build awareness of how cultural differences can impact people and their behavior and attitude toward others.

In addition, third-year pharmacy students were among more than 600 health professions students who attended UK’s Annual Cultural Competence Conference in September entitled, Reflections on Race, Ethnicity and Culture: Considerations for Health. UK was the first in the U.S. to sponsor this type of conference to health professions students and its success has been so rewarding that other institutions have adopted the model.

Students also are taking a leadership role by establishing one of UK’s newest student organizations, a chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association. The educational service association is for minority students concerned about pharmacy and health care related issues, and the poor minority representation in pharmacy and other health related professions.

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