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  • Jarrett Johnson, PharmD

Young, Gifted, & Black 365: HBCU Alum Perspective

In white male–dominated professions like medicine, black men are in the majority because of our gender, but in the minority due to our race; especially in the field of pharmacy where it is a predominantly woman oriented profession. Being a black professional comes with its challenges at times, however, we have to learn to overcome and strive. For some time I always felt like I had a cushion, from attending a historically black university, to doing my first year of residency at a predominately black hospital, however, during my last year of residency I was placed in a predominately non-black facility. At first it was very challenging to overcome because the first thing I said to myself was “wow I am one of the only black male clinical pharmacist working here”. Luckily I am not the only black pharmacist working in mental health however, it really changed my perspective on things. 15% of the pharmacists that work at my facility are of African descent. It’s a high number due to the fact that my facility is very diverse, but is still low due to the location of the facility. Looking outside of South Florida, when I interviewed at different facilities for my second year residency, 83.3% facilities had less than five black pharmacist working there and even less than one black male pharmacist.

Coming from an HBCU (Historically Black College & University), you really don’t really appreciate it until you go into the working world. Going to an HBCU is like living in Wakanda, you have different shades, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. It is the best cultural experience I needed. Although, due to the lack of diversity I found it challenging to integrate with other racial groups upon graduation. The first time I attended pharmacy’s biggest conference ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting, I found it very challenging to gain friendships with other pharmacy students and pharmacists. It was very unsettling due to the fact that I was so use to being around people of color. However, one thing that my HBCU taught me was to finesse and be the most confident version of myself. To wear the color of my skill proudly and represent my school well.

See at FAMU, we are known to be one of the most professional group of pharmacy students to come from Florida. We look great, remain well dressed, and speak with conviction. I don’t know if I would have developed the same swagger if I attended a PWI (no disrespect). It’s something about just being around your own people, the relationships you build are priceless. It’s like being in a big fraternity and everyone looks out for one another. Going to an HBCU has allowed me to thrive and succeed even when the cards were not in my favor.

I truly am glad I went to an HBCU and I will never regret that decision. It has made me into the man I am today and has allowed me opportunities for leadership, professionalism and lifetime friends.

“Dr. Jarrett Johnson, a born native of Miami, FL, graduated from Florida A&M University in 2017 where he obtained his doctorate of pharmacy. Post-graduation, Dr. Johnson completed his PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC where he created a psychiatric consult rotation to match his interest in mental health. Dr. Johnson is currently a PGY2 Psychiatric Pharmacy resident at the Miami VA here in Miami, FL, during this time he also obtained his board certification in pharmacotherapy. Dr. Johnson enjoys mentoring the youth, playing basketball, coaching football and playing the saxophone on his spare time from residency. Dr. Johnson is a member of the noble clan of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc, Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Inc, and The College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacist”.

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