Recently named the School of Pharmacy’s assistant dean of equity, diversity, and inclusion, associate professor is a champion of optimizing medication use in older adults.
This is the latest in a series from the University of Maryland, Baltimore's Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) highlighting a student, faculty, or staff member. Read previous DAC Spotlights.
Chanel F. Whittaker, PharmD, BCGP, FASCP, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP), the inaugural co-chair of UMSOP’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force, and the recently named UMSOP assistant dean of equity, diversity, and inclusion, is a proven champion for safe use and management of medications for our diverse older adult population.
In her role as the co-chair for the school’s DEI Task Force, Whittaker developed the task force structure with representation from the dean’s office, faculty, staff, and students to outline organizational priorities for DEI. This was a yearlong process to evaluate input and DEI best practices from UMSOP stakeholders, peer schools, University of Maryland, Baltimore campus DEI advisors, and task force workgroups. Among the accomplishments under her joint leadership, the task force developed an initial list of strategic priorities including community building, inclusion, equity and accountability, and competence.
Further, the task force developed a position description for the first assistant/associate dean of equity, diversity, and inclusion; developed a final report of the task force’s activities and short‐term strategic plan for the dean; represented the school at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Leadership Institute; conducted the first UMSOP DEI Town Hall in April 2021; and conducted an internal and external environmental scan of stakeholders and campus leaders. Additionally, she served as chair for the Leadership Development and Career Advancement Workgroup and helped establish a structure for task force workgroups.
In her new role as assistant dean of EDI, Whittaker will maintain some of her teaching and clinical responsibilities while leading EDI efforts. She will work collaboratively with the DEI Task Force, which now transitions to an advisory council.
Whittaker has exhibited leadership at the highest level, having served in many leadership capacities during her career. In addition to her role as director of education and training for the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging and residency director for the Geriatric Pharmacy Residency Program, she is an elite clinical pharmacist practitioner serving at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the first and only clinical pharmacy specialist appointed to the Renal Interdisciplinary Safety Clinic medical staff.
The focus of Whittaker’s research and practice is optimizing medication use in complex older adults with multimorbidity and veterans with chronic kidney disease. In a training module published in the Association of American Medical Colleges, Whittaker notes the “critical need for qualified health care workers to care for this increasingly diverse generation of older adults. The module was developed for health care professional students, trainees, and practitioners to explore personal health beliefs, attitudes toward older adults, and strategies to facilitate cross-cultural communication in this vulnerable patient population.”
The Geriatric Patient Aligned Care (GeriPACT) Team at the Loch Raven Veterans Affairs Medical Center was established in 2017 to provide comprehensive primary care services to frail older adults. Whittaker established pharmacy services and practice with an interprofessional team of geriatricians, fellows, nurse practitioners, and social workers. Anonymous feedback in a faculty practice evaluation report in March 2021 said: “The service that she provides to GeriPACT primary care (veterans mostly 85+ with multiple medical issues and often cognitive decline) is an amazing asset. If only she were in this clinic more often and could have a larger panel of patients. This service is highly desirable.”
Through her ability to seamlessly intertwine her experiences, knowledge, and passion, Whittaker has made tremendous impact in the profession of pharmacy education and practice particularly addressing the most vulnerable of our population. She is a respected and trusted member of the interdisciplinary team.