CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Anita Jackson was working as a retail pharmacist in Central Falls when she first gained awareness of health care disparities faced by patients who didn’t speak fluent English. “I saw firsthand how patients did not get the counseling on medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) at the same level as those who did speak English,” she says. “It raised my awareness of how language and cultural barriers limit patient access to the same care as native English speakers and those who have Western medicine cultural backgrounds.”
She adds, “I saw self-treatment for many conditions that really required medical attention, due to insurance barriers or concerns about immigration status.”
Since then, Jackson has dedicated her career to being an advocate for under-represented patients. At URI, she serves as the co-chair of the President’s Commission on People with Disabilities and is past-chair of the College of Pharmacy Diversity Committee. She advises the URI chapter of Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) – an organization dedicated to community outreach programs for minorities and to the advancement and promotion of minority representation in pharmacy – and also serves as faculty advisor for Spanish for Use in the Pharmacy Profession (SUPP), helping College of Pharmacy students practice their conversational Spanish, learn medical and pharmacy terminology, and engage in mock patient counseling. Each summer, she coordinates the Walgreens Summer Academy, a three-day overnight camp to encourage minority high school students to pursue careers in community pharmacy.
“I learned from Dr. Jackson to always be open minded and ready to give 110% in any situation, to not be afraid of going into the community and helping anyone you encounter.” – Kristina Esposito ’16On April 19, Jackson was honored at the 18th Annual University Diversity Awards for Faculty Excellence “in recognition of her commitment to enhancing the quality of life for students, faculty and staff with disabilities and for other students from diverse perspectives and backgrounds.”
For pharmacists, Jackson emphasizes the impact they can have on under-respresented patients: “Pharmacists can ensure that they are aware of cultural health beliefs that are predominant for any minority groups that are prevalent in the areas where they practice,” she says. “Also, they can ensure access to and utilization of trained interpreters that have some medical/pharmacy training –not just using people who happen to be in the store or family members of the patient.”
Beyond the patients she serves, Jackson’s work has made a lasting impact on her students. “I learned from Dr. Jackson to always be open minded and ready to give 110% in any situation, to not be afraid of going into the community and helping anyone you encounter,” says Kristina Esposito ’16, past-president of the URI SNPhA chapter. “She has the biggest heart and is the true epitome of what a pharmacist should be.”