Unity in diversity
Juan Rodriguez is a final-year PharmD candidate at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy and the 2021–22 APhA–ASP National President.
When was the first time you heard or became cognizant of diversity? For me, it was a poster full of kids in my first-grade classroom. Without knowing the designer’s intent, my little kid brain understood that every child in the poster was supposed to superficially look or represent something different. That narrow depiction stuck with me for a long time, but thankfully, over the years that narrative has shifted into something more complex and inclusive—each of us has our own unique personal stories and experiences, in life and in pharmacy, and individually as well as collectively provide a greater value when we are bold and share those experiences.
The collective power of diversity
I was able to see the collective power of diversity in student pharmacists in action at my first few APhA meetings as a first-year student—the Midyear Regional Meeting, 2019 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, and the APhA–ASP Summer Leadership Institute. Student pharmacists from across the country came together with a common purpose and goal, and I could have not been more taken aback by the passion they shared for advancing our profession.
Whether in spite of or as a result of our individual experiences, each unique perspective brought us together like a beautiful stained-glass mosaic—each piece distinctly different but contributing to the beauty of the whole. Similar to appreciating the beauty of a stained-glass mosaic, diversity is appreciating the uniqueness in those around us; moreover, inclusivity is taking actionable steps to bring those unique experiences to the table.
The power of “Unity in Diversity” is evident through student pharmacists’ contributions to the successes of our profession. A distinct example is student pharmacists’ efforts at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy and their “calling parties,” which had a direct impact on the successful passage of HB 42 Pharmaceutical Services Reimbursement Parity bill into New Mexico law in March 2020. Inclusivity in our advocacy efforts is one of many actionable ways legislators hear our personal stories in advocating for our profession. In the spirit of Unity in Diversity, student pharmacists have taken action to address and recognize the importance of evolving our profession to make it more equitable in serving our vulnerable patient populations.
The spirit of Unity in Diversity is especially important when considering the many pathways we may take in our careers. Pharmacy school gives us the basics, but over the course of our careers and post–pharmacy education, we will each grow and develop into our unique niches, whether in hospital, community, industry, or wherever there may be a seat for a pharmacist. In this variety of settings, we know that we are valuable and worthy of being included. We know that we are champions not only for our profession, but also for the communities and patients we serve, directly or indirectly. Whether we are students or practitioners, APhA is our home because we are stronger together with Unity i