A Call to Care
“People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Unknown
Working in a retail pharmacy has provided me with a unique experience when it comes to black health. I currently serve a community of middle-aged to elderly patients, including a small black population. Though the black population is small, establishing a relationship is still important, and being a source of information to create positive impact is still meaningful and vital.
I have worked in various communities serving many demographic groups, each of which provided its own blue chip to care and pharmacy. My experiences working in underserved communities in West Chicago highlighted the gross disparities, including the lack of resources, education and accessibility to medications. They were either over-medicated, improperly medicated, lacking treatment, or uneducated about the intentions of the medical treatment they were receiving. Though this seems like the minutia of healthcare, it has been proven that patients that understand the purpose, proper use, and intentions of treatment are more adherent to therapy and thus more likely to achieve and maintain good health. For every 20 maintenance prescriptions written, only 13 will be filled. Of those 13, only 6 will be refilled. And of those 6, only 1 will be continued for the year. How much of this non-adherence can we attribute to lack of understanding? That's where I come in.
What my patients often mention is that,"my doctor was too busy to explain how to take this and didn't tell me side effects”, or “they just told me to take this, but I don't even know what this is for.” How disturbing! And once we're rolling with the jokes and commentary, I get the real feelings: “I don't think they care, they just gave me something to go away” or “they didn't think I’d understand, so they didn't explain.” It's heartbreaking to think that someone could be counted out before they even pick up the prescription, before they even swallow the first pill. It's enough to be diagnosed with any illness or disease, but to think that the people that should be caring for you don't care, is enough to discourage anyone. This is another reason why I'm obliged to be that tangible resource of not just health information, but compassion as well. Considering the disparities stigmas in black health alone, every black healthcare professional should feel that same duty.
Being a reliable and accessible source of information is the biggest role any pharmacist can play. And not just in regards to drug information, but health in a general sense overall. What I see when in my community is a small black population that feels comfortable coming to me with all of their healthcare questions because they know that I either have the answer, can quickly access a solution, or will refer them forward. They know that I care for them in a special way because I see them everyday in my own family. They are the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins that invested in my future as a healthcare professional. And in a society that seems to busy to care about our health, black health, I've made it my mission to uplift our people.
Caring is the daily job for Dr. Monai Lowe, a Pharmacy Manager for CVS Pharmacy in the Atlanta Metropolitan area. Working in the Atlanta area for the past 3 years has rewarded Monai with amazing patients and countless opportunities to help and care for those that need it most. She is a proud graduate of the 2013 class of Hampton University's School of Pharmacy, where she also became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She is a member of the American Phamarcist's Association, and is certified in Medication Therapy Management.