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Nowadays, the racial and ethnic composition of the American citizens changes considerably, and pharmacists have to interact with patients, who have various cultural backgrounds. It is not enough for pharmacists to understand the importance of cultural issues. It is to know how to treat people and demonstrate respect for their cultural and ethnic differences. In this paper, the rationale for cultural competence will be discussed in terms of two documents, the Oath of a Pharmacist and the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, to explain their roles and the behavior of pharmacists in the modern culturally-interchangeable world.
In comparison to nurses, doctors, and other medical workers, who have to cooperate with the people of certain groups and with certain diseases, pharmacists should be ready to provide people of different age, gender, race, religion, and social status and with different diseases with the services of the same quality. Sometimes, patients know what they should expect of pharmacists. Still, some patients may ask for different help and set too high expectations in regards to pharmacists.
Therefore, the role of pharmacists is crucial indeed in medication therapy management due to the necessity to communicate with patients, provide them with the required portion of help, and stay respectful to their cultural and ethnical backgrounds.2 Current students and pharmacists have to realize that the way of how they cooperate with patients could influence human health, well-being, and emotions. Culture has deep roots. However, it is also a dynamic process because people are free to move and choose cultures in regards to their personal needs and decisions. Pharmacists should know how to promote effective delivery of culturally appropriate services in different settings.
The Oath of a Pharmacist and Cultural Competence
One of the first steps taken by undergraduates of pharmacy programs is reciting the Oath of a Pharmacist according to which pharmacists have to consider the welfare of humanity, respect patients, and embrace changes in inpatient care.3 Besides, the Oath makes future pharmacists underline the importance of their appropriate moral, ethical, and legal behavior. These points are directly related to cultural competence and prove its importance in pharmacy.
The Code of Ethics for Pharmacists and Cultural Competence
The Code of Ethics for Pharmacists is another document that defines the duties of pharmacists and the essence of this field. There are eight crucial principles each pharmacist should be aware of to be ready to recognize the demographic characteristics and provide competent health care.2 In the third principle, it is stated that a pharmacist has to respect the dignity of every patient including personal and cultural differences. Besides, the fourth principle reminds of professional competence and the importance of knowledge as health information advances. Pharmacists cannot neglect their duties or distort the rules defined by the American Pharmacists Association, the members of which spend their lives to determine the best conditions for patients and to provide them with the best healthcare and medical services.
In general, the Oath of a Pharmacist and the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists have a certain relation to cultural competence. Being students, future pharmacists study the official documents to understand what is expected of them as healthcare professionals. A cultural variety cannot be neglected. Therefore, cultural competence is properly discussed in several principles of the Code and several statements of the Oath.
- Cooper, LA, Vellurattil, RP, Quinones-Boex, A. Pharmacy students’ perceptions of cultural competence encounters during practice experiences. Am J Pharm Educ. 2014; 78(2): 31-37. Web.
- Echeverri, M, Brookover, C, Kennedy, K. Assessing pharmacy students’ self-perception of cultural competence. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013; 24(1): 64-92. Web.
- Lupu, AM, Connor, SE, Jonkman, LJ. Pharmacy students’ actual and perceived knowledge of issues related to underserved populations across the professional curriculum. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2013; 5: 526-540. Web.