Pacific leads effort to include DEI in national pharmacy oath

Pharmacy students recite oath

Pharmacy students from the class of 2022 recite the Oath of a Pharmacist after leading the charge to add more inclusive language.

Starting this commencement season, new pharmacists graduating from universities around the country will be reciting a revised oath that includes diversity, equity and inclusion – an effort led by University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy.

“I felt like it was a necessary step in improving patient care and creating a good mindset for us,” said doctor of pharmacy graduate Adam Aboubakare ’22.

Aboubakare was one of 11 people, only two of whom were students, selected for a national committee to revise the oath, which outlines the values and characteristics pharmacists will uphold.

The primary change was the addition of a line reading: “I will promote inclusion, embrace diversity, and advocate for justice to advance health equity.” It was approved by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the American Pharmacists Association last fall.

“Back when there were protests, the pharmacy school students got together, motivated to advocate for patient care, so we started off with White Coats for Black Lives,” Aboubakare said. He founded Pacific’s chapter of the national organization, with a goal of educating people about how healthcare inequities can affect patient care.

Inspired by their passion, a diversity, equity and inclusion committee made up of students, faculty, staff and alumni was created at the pharmacy school. Pharmacy professor Marisella Guerrero ’98 serves as lead faculty member.

“I brought forward the idea of amending the oath to include some type of statement of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Guerrero said. “It was based off an article I read where some medical students were looking over the Hippocratic Oath and considering whether changes needed to be made.”

The committee reached out to the national pharmacy associations to suggest a revision and they agreed.

“Student pharmacists from University of the Pacific and the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists Region 8 chapters helped to lead the charge to bring diversity, equity, inclusion and justice to the forefront of our profession’s oath … It is through the efforts of passionate student pharmacist advocates at Pacific that our profession will continue to improve the quality of healthcare for everyone in our nation” said Keith Marciniak, Vice President of Member Relations at the American Pharmacists Association.

It is a change Guerrero is thrilled to see. “It meant a lot for us, understanding the impact that it has on our patients and what this means for students to be taking that oath and acknowledging that this is important. This is a critical part of our profession, and it should be included.”

Aboubakare says he is hopeful the new oath will inspire change. 

“It might spark a new discussion in someone’s mind that maybe it is important to be more inclusive, to care for patients regardless of who they are, where they come from and the identity that they have,” he said.