Sunday, September 5, 2010

Black does not equal "ghetto"

Last week, I started at my new full time "home" more floating! When I shared the news of my new location with various coworkers, they responded with comments about the "'hood" and the "ghetto." Let me explain something...just because a neighborhood is predominantly black does not mean it is 'hood, ghetto, crime-ridden, or full of blight. I would say 90% of patients I serve there are black. Many walk to the store, and most are on Medicaid. The majority are older, and have been living in the area for years and years. They know my pharmacy manager by name, and he asks about their kids or their parents. The first day I was there, several patients introduced themselves to me, shook my hand, and welcomed me to the store. The younger folks come in with questions about medical issues with their kids, and they are very respectful, and appreciative of my advice.

Let me say that I am a white girl, born and raised in the Midwest. I am now living in a Southern city that isn't aware that the Civil War has ended. There is a huge black population here, and still a lot of racism, which is something I'm not used to. There are cultural differences between myself and my new patients, and I am getting used to understanding that a "pump" is an inhaler for asthma, and that crazy high dose of narcotics is probably treating a sickle cell patient.

I would rather work in the "'hood" 20 minutes away than the store a mile from my house, where the clientele is rich white people. They can be demanding, entitled, rude, and disrespectful. The pharmacists I know who hate working in black neighborhoods probably have difficulties because they don't treat the patients with respect. The Golden Rule is the key. I think I'm going to like my new home.


  1. I am now living in a Southern city that isn't aware that the Civil War has ended.

    I lived in a place like that. What a shock! And I agree with you that a little respect goes a long way. Glad to hear you have a home now :)

  2. I work in both settings -- upper middle class suburban and lower-income city area. There are jerks everywhere, but the inner city folks tend to respond very well if they are treated with courtesy. It's almost as though they are pleasantly surprised by it. They are much more used to being 'invisible.'

  3. Let me tell you... . Courtesy and an honest interest in helping a patient get to 'health' go a long way in providing a positive patient interaction. Sometimes, it takes a lot of creativity to 'think outside the box' as to how to help the patient think they can achieve their own motivation to seek 'health', but that's the beauty of meeting the professional challenges. Sometimes, knowing the positive impact is the only valuable reward!

    Glad to hear that you're moving up the ladder so that you can 'measure' your impact in the patients' lives.

  4. Actually, the word ghetto is one I've removed from my vocabulary after researching its origin.

    I ran across a great quote the other day; I think it fits here.

    "What is a slum? is something that mostly exists in the in the imaginations of middle-class do-gooders and bureaucrats: people who do not want to live in them in the first place and do not have to live in what they put up afterwards once they have pulled them all down. One person's slum is another person's community." --May Hobbs