New interprofessional course teaches anti-racism in health care practice


June 24, 2022

Students learning at a table
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In summer 2020, while the country was focused on systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of faculty, staff and students across all health science colleges at The Ohio State University decided to design a curriculum to combat racism.

The new course, called “Anti-racism in action,” focuses on finding and eliminating racist practices on an individual and systemic level. This year, around 1,100 student professionals participated in the course with 122 pharmacy students enrolled.

“We want our students to have the skills to fight racism and have something they can do in the moment,” said Alexa Valentino, PharmD, associate professor of pharmacy practice and science at the College of Pharmacy and director of the BuckIPE curriculum. “The other goal is to be able to recognize where racism manifests in the systemic and institutional levels, and that students will be able to see it and recognize ways that they can help eliminate disparities.”

The course was launched in January 2021 as a five-part online learning module that students would complete over the course of five weeks with fellow second-year students across health science colleges. In the modules, students complete independent work to get a baseline understanding of topics like privilege, cultural humility, and various levels of racism and how it impacts health care access and delivery.

The coursework has changed since it began, adding an in-person component. Now, after students complete their independent work, they meet with their interprofessional teams in person to discuss their independent pre-work and work through patient case studies that they might face as student professionals and future health care providers. Teams later put together a presentation describing the case study and present it to their facilitator.

“The interprofessional aspect of this is important because all health care providers must work together to create the best patient outcomes,” said Jim McAuley, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, associate dean of academic affairs and professor of pharmacy education and innovation at the College of Pharmacy. “I am glad we are bringing together all these professions to ensure the best outcomes for their future patients.”

In addition to the in-person interprofessional components, live sessions and guest facilitators such as Z Tenney, MEd, diversity equity and inclusion officer at the College of Pharmacy, have presented this semester to enhance students’ learning experiences.

“This topic cuts through all disciplines and affects all health care professions,” Dr. Valentino said. “It really is an important area for our students to address. I love seeing them engage and learn from and with each other. At the end of this course, they are better equipped with how to respond to these issues.”