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Upon completion of the chapter and exercises, the student pharmacist will be able to


  1. Explain two types of organizations that address health disparities.

  2. Identify and describe the mission and scope of selected organizations that work to reduce health disparities and provide care to underserved populations.

  3. Analyze the role of the pharmacist as an advocate for the profession and for underserved patients.

  4. Categorize the key elements of developing and participating in an academic outreach project.

  5. Identify the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in an interdisciplinary team whose goal is to develop services for an identified population.

  6. Recognize the importance of reflection exercises in outreach projects.


There are times when taking the practice to the people can address health disparities more efficiently, than if pharmacists wait for the people to come to them. The world is small and motivated pharmacists can address not only local but also global health issues. This chapter is not about the practice of pharmacy in other countries nor is it a step-by-step guide to accomplish an outreach or mission trip. This chapter is an overview of how to reduce health disparities in your own country or others, by understanding organizations that serve the underserved, and by becoming an advocate for the profession of pharmacy and underserved patients, and by participating in outreach opportunities. You should take advantage as often as possible to participate in courses, outreach missions, or other global experiences that allow you to stretch your knowledge both medically and culturally.


Representatives from various organizations that address the needs of the underserved frequently contact pharmacists seeking partnerships for funding, supplies, or volunteer services. These organizations are a great way for student pharmacists to get involved in addressing health disparities. However, before getting involved in any organization, it is important to understand how the organization is defined, its mission, and its scope of service.


Organizations that typically address health disparities and serve the underserved usually fall into two categories: not-for-profit/nonprofit (NPO) and charitable foundation.1,2 The categories are mostly defined by how and where funds are directed (Table 18.1).

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