Building community advocates
With chain pharmacies on nearly every corner, it can be easy to take the work of independent pharmacists for granted. But for Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (EACPHS) alumnus Nazih Jawad, it remains one of the most important roles in a community.
“Independent pharmacists educate their customers on their prescriptions and how to maintain healthy lifestyles,” Jawad said. “Our patients are people that you see often; with time, they become your friends or people you see at the park, community events or even when you’re driving down the streets. When our patients and pharmacists meet in community places, follow-up is always maintained. At the doctor’s level, our pharmacists represent their patients’ opinions in order to deliver a precise message. Patients come into my pharmacy to say hello, with or without a prescription.”
Pharmacy has been a passion that’s fueled Jawad for most of his life. The Dearborn, Michigan, native grew up with a pharmacist grandfather who helped spur his interest in the profession. After receiving his bachelor’s in biochemistry from Wayne State University and his doctor of pharmacy in 1992, Jawad did clinical work at DMC Sinai Grace Hospital in Detroit, where he further honed his pharmaceutical skills. In 1996, he opened his first independent pharmacy, an ambulatory clinic in Dearborn supported by Sinai Grace.
“I chose that location because I wanted to do both community pharmacy and work with doctors to expand my knowledge and better serve my community, which needed a lot of guidance,” he said. “I think, over the years, managing a great communications system with members of my community was a success. This was a journey of exploration for me, and I think I managed it well while helping many underserved patients make healthier life choices.”
The same year he opened his pharmacy, Jawad worked with former EACPHS graduates and pharmacists throughout the Detroit area to form the Arab American Pharmacist Association (AAPA), a nonprofit organization that works to further the profession and assist the community. Today, the AAPA is a nationwide organization with more than 200 member pharmacies and individuals.
It’s through this organization that many EACPHS students have been able to receive their education. The Arab American Pharmacist Association Endowed Scholarship, which is presented to qualified pharmacy students throughout the United States, is one of its key tools in doing that. To date, approximately 15 students benefit from the scholarship annually.
Jawad also supports students through another organization he helped found, Life Rx. The for-profit association was formed in 2011 to support the advancement of health care, public health, patient care and other interests that serve both the medical and pharmacy professions.
“As a for-profit organization, decisions tend to get made easier,” said Jawad, the organization’s president. “But the passion for making sure our students have someone to look up to for help is the same.”
Jawad implemented the Nazih Jawad Life Rx Endowed Scholarship at Wayne State, which assists qualifying EACPHS students with financial need. Every year, the college sends over several recommended students, and Jawad said he’s always amazed at the caliber of students selected.
“I’m impressed by their quality, perception, seriousness and love for their community,” he said. “When they tell me they’ll be going into community pharmacy to offer help to others, it gives me a lot of comfort.”
Jawad, who still lives in Dearborn and transitioned over to pharmaceutical distribution in 2012, said the need for local pharmacists continues to grow. The area’s diversity has given rise to numerous communities within the city, many of which have their own doctors and pharmacists to meet their unique needs.
“That’s the beauty of this community,” he said. “Every pharmacist serves his or her community and builds relationships within. This has led many parents to see pharmacy as a successful career option, which is why we’ve seen an increase in the number of pharmacists from the Arab American community.”
Photo: Nazih Jawad, his son Saad and his wife Jihan with Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson and his wife, Jacqueline.
For more information on either the Arab American Pharmacist Association Endowed Scholarship or the Nazih Jawad Life Rx Endowed Scholarship, visit http://cphs.wayne.edu/private-scholarships.php.