Caring for Limited English Proficient Patients: A Continuing Education Program for Pharmacists
Priti N. Patel and Emily M. Ambizas, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice
Objectives: To describe a continuing education (CE) program that introduces pharmacists to the needs of Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients; to determine what impact the program had on their perceptions of LEP patients; and to determine if after attending this program they will try to implement changes to improve language services provided to LEP patients.
Methods: A 3-hour CE course on immigrant demographics, English proficiency, medication safety, legal issues, and ways to overcome linguistic access barriers was developed. Participants attending these programs were given pre- and post- surveys to measure knowledge and perceptions of LEP patients.
Results: Twenty-seven pharmacists attended the 2 programs provided. Before the program, 77% felt “immigrants should know English,” while after the program, this decreased to 63%. Participants were able to retain Information presented in the course, including facts about immigrants. The number of those who felt healthcare should be available to all persons regardless of immigration status increased between the surveys. Participants who felt they should improve language services in their practice increased from 55% (pre) to 85% (post), although only half of the participants said they anticipate making changes to their language services in the following two months.
Implications: This CE course was effective in raising awareness of this critical issue. Further development of innovative solutions to help increase language services will help pharmacists provide better care for LEP patients.