Diversity

Continuing Conversations and Taking Action for Equity

By Kendall Mealy, MPAJune 24, 2020

Image: Shutterstock

PAEA is committed to increasing diversity in PA education — here’s how.

Over the past several weeks, PAEA has been listening to members, students, and Association staff discuss their experiences with discrimination and injustice — and it’s clear that we need to do more. PAEA commits to being anti-racist and supportive and inclusive of everyone. We also recognize that words alone are not enough. With that in mind, here are the ways that PAEA is currently working to combat discrimination in PA education.

Creating Spaces for Conversation

Earlier this month, PAEA hosted a faculty town hall to learn about the experiences of faculty with racial injustice. We heard stories of faculty members being marginalized and targeted, and about the burden our colleagues of color face. We were encouraged to check in with our students and colleagues, and, as leaders, we were challenged to address issues of racism and discrimination head-on. There were conversations about the importance of having mentors, and the role that non-minorities can take in becoming allies.

PAEA also hosted two student town halls, allowing for PA student voices to come together. Again, we heard vulnerable and emotional testimonies of students’ experiences in their programs, on clinical rotations, and with patients. It is clear that we have work to do in making the educational community a better place for students to learn, and to do that, we must address disparities, inequities, injustice, discrimination, and bias in all aspects of PA education.

Fostering Digital Connections for Students & Faculty

During these town hall sessions, PAEA listened. We heard students. We heard faculty. And we are committed to playing our part in creating resources and continuing to facilitate opportunities and spaces for dialogue. To that end, PAEA will soon create a professional learning community exclusively for PA students. In the student town hall, we heard loud and clear that spaces for conversation and connection are critical, and PAEA is honored to be able to leverage our digital learning space for those conversations to occur. We will send more information for you to share with your students in the coming weeks.

PAEA already has these digital spaces available for faculty, and we encourage you to check out the following resources:

Helping Programs Prepare for the Diversity Standard

The new Accreditation Standard regarding diversity will require all programs to demonstrate their commitment to student, faculty, and staff diversity by defining goals, implementing recruitment and retention strategies, and making available resources to support diversity and inclusion. PAEA has been working in collaboration with our Diversity and Inclusion Mission Advancement Commission (DIMAC) on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toolkit, which will take programs through the process of developing definitions, goals, and objectives related to diversity. The toolkit contains not only a process, but a compilation of best practice resources for programs. We are excited to share this tool, which will be available in early July.

Supporting Diversity-Focused Special Interest Groups

The Minority Faculty Leadership Development Special Interest Group (SIG) has existed for many years now as a safe space for minority faculty to network, provide mentorship, share experiences, and support one another. As an Association, we will continue to support the work of this SIG in any way we can.

At its meeting this week, the Board of Directors also approved the creation of a new Sexual and Gender Minority/LGBTQ+ Health SIG. The creation of this group was led by facilitators Quincy Jones, MSW, MHS, PA-C, of Duke University and Jenny Kluznik, MPH, PA-C, of Augsburg University. Specifically, the group aims to:

  • Improve the health of sexual and gender minorities by supporting PA program faculty in the development/inclusion of related content in their curricula and increased learning opportunities for future PAs
  • Serve as advocates for sexual and gender minorities by increasing educational opportunities and promoting culture and policy changes
  • Increase the knowledge base about educational practices on topics of gender and sexual minorities through the pursuit and dissemination of related scholarly work in PA education

PA faculty interested in joining either or both of these groups can do so by joining the related PLCs, linked above.

Looking Forward

PAEA is partnering with our volunteer stakeholders to identify opportunities to more intentionally integrate topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism into our educational offerings. Specifically, as we look forward to the 2020 PAEA Education Forum, we are actively identifying areas to deliver some of the resources and content that faculty have requested. As a learning organization, we understand our role and responsibility in continuing the dialogue and providing ongoing, relevant education for our members.

Kendall Mealy, MPA

Kendall is PAEA's senior director of leadership and organizational development.