Improving Pharmacy Services for First Nations Clients by Committing to Cultural Safety and Humility
Pharmacists sometimes ask what they can do to improve their work with First Nations clients. This is an excellent question given the changing climate of the pharmacy profession. As our scope of practice continues to expand, we have an opportunity to be active participants in the decolonization of health services for First Nations people.
Pharmacists are a first point of contact with the healthcare system for many First Nations people. As such, we can each make a real difference in these clients’ experiences by learning about the impacts of colonization, residential schools, systemic racism, discrimination, stereotypes, health inequities and the social determinants of health.
In July 2015, the CEOs of each BC Health Authority and the Ministry of Health signed a formal “Declaration of Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples in BC.” This declaration offers senior-level commitment to safety, but the real work takes place on the ground when healthcare providers commit to providing culturally safe services.
Cultural safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. Cultural humility is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust.
When pharmacists engage with First Nations people from a place of cultural humility, they are helping to create healthcare environments where individuals feel safe and respected, and are therefore more likely to access care when they need it. In fact, positive interactions with First Nations clients can help to build trust in a system that has historically failed to meet their needs.
So where can you start? FNHA encourages all pharmacists to complete the eight-hour, online San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety course provided by the Provincial Health Services Authority. Currently less than 2% of all licensed pharmacists in BC have taken the course, making this a significant commitment for you and other pharmacists to make.
You can also head over to FNHA’s Cultural Humility Portal to learn more and pledge your commitment to cultural safety and humility today.
CULTURAL SAFETY AND HUMILITY READLINKS SERIES
Learn about the culture and experiences of First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples in BC, the importance of acknowledging racism in healthcare, and the role of cultural humility and safety in providing care in this Cultural Safety and Humility ReadLinks Series.
Cindy Preston BSc (Pharm), RPh
Cindy Preston is a pharmacist working with FNHA Health Benefits and Nursing Services on issues related to pharmacy services, regulatory issues, and practice standards. She is passionately working on FNHA’s Healthy Medication Use initiative, an initiative that promotes safe use of appropriate drug therapies and to support community awareness of importance of safe prescription drug use. She grew up in on Vancouver Island and now resides the Lower Mainland with her husband and two young children.