Project Access

Project Access is an outreach recruitment program that aims to encourage high school students from underrepresented minoritized groups to consider the PA profession as a career. Our primary goal is to increase the number of underrepresented PAs, provide more accessible primary care, and eliminate health disparities. We aim to help students become competitive candidates for PA programs by preparing them early in their education.

Project Access Student-Led Competition

Each year during National PA Week, we honor PAs and their incredible contributions to medicine. Starting in 2021, we created a competition to see which of our programs could host the most innovative and engaging, student-led Project Access event during PA Week. We are excited to continue this competition annually and have included the details for team registration and participation below.

2022 Competition Details

The student-led team registration process will open the week of August 1, 2022. The competition will have the following deadlines:

  • August 23, 2022 – Registration Deadline
  • September 9, 2022 – Full Project Plan Submission Deadline
  • October 6-12, 2022 – PA Week: Teams Carry Out Events
  • October 13, 2022 – Winner Announcement at PAEA Awards Ceremony

Each team’s event will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Project Plan – Team submits fully developed plan, which includes PA student team members information, local school visit information (demographics, location, numbers, plans for evaluations), a timeline for the activity, implementation, and follow-up, and a wire-frame or outline of the actual activity or activities planned
  • Engagement – Local students are engaged in activity and learning, not just watching a video or Powerpoint
  • Originality – Project improves upon old Project Access model
  • Clarity of Expression – Project clearly describes the profession and translates the information to the audience
  • Creativity – Team uses multiple mediums and innovative means of delivering the message; project has entertainment quality
  • Impact/Sustainability – Team forges a connection between school/program and follow up activities are planned or scheduled

The team winning first place will receive the champions belt, sent directly from last year’s champions, Ithaca College PA Program. They will also receive a plaque and and a monetary award that will be applied to a study or learning resource for the students. The second and third place teams will receive crystal trophies and bragging rights for the rest of the year.

PA Program/Student Team Sign-up

Sign up your team for the 2022 Student-Led Project Access Competition by August 23, 2022.

REGISTER NOW

2021 Competition: Check out the winners, participants and projects

2021 Competition Winners

1st Place: Ithaca College PA Program

2nd Place (TIE): University of Washington – MEDEX NW PA Program

2nd Place (TIE): Wingate University PA Program

2021 Competition Details

  • AdventHealth University
  • Campbell University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Des Moines University
  • DeSales University
  • Duke University PA Program
  • Franklin Pierce University Master of Physician Assistant Program
  • MCPHS University Boston
  • MGH Institute of Health Professions
  • Northwestern College PA Program
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of South Alabama Physician Assistant Studies
  • West Chester University
  • Yale University Physician Assistant Online Program

Each team’s event will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Engagement – Local students are engaged in activity and learning, not just watching a video or Powerpoint
  • Originality – Project improves upon old Project Access model
  • Clarity of Expression – Project clearly describes the profession and translates the information to the audience
  • Creativity – Team uses multiple mediums and innovative means of delivering the message; project has entertainment quality
  • Impact/Sustainability – Team forges a connection between school/program and follow up activities are planned or scheduled

The team winning first place will receive a champions belt, a plaque, and a monetary award that will be applied to a study or learning resource for the students. The second and third place teams will receive crystal trophies and bragging rights for the rest of the year.

2021 Projects

These are some of the projects submitted during the inaugural student-led competition. Check them out for some inspiration!

The AdventHealth University team did presentations at a local high school with a medical magnet program. They personalized the PAEA PowerPoint and presented it in an information session in addition to coordinating breakout sessions with the attendees where the PA students demonstrated skills they have learned, such as obtaining vitals and using medical equipment. Finally, the team utilized a Kahoot game to gauge participation and reception of information presented, and provided the attendees with educational pamphlets and swag. Attendees who indicate interest in the profession will be brought to the AdventHealth campus during the spring sememster for an official tour and an inclusive experience in the medical simulation lab.

The Des Moines University team did a presentation at a local high school. The students played a video for the students that they created themselves (linked below), answered questions about PA education, specialties, and about the student presenters’ backgrounds, and set up skill stations for the student attendees to rotate through. There were five stations and included human organs (heart, lungs, and brains) for students to see and touch while hearing key anatomy facts, medical models of bones, heart, and pelvic region, listening to heart sounds with stethoscopes, learning to take blood pressure, and learning to wrap writs in case of fracture and using otoscope and opthalmoscope. Plans are plans being made to repeat this event once a year at this local high school, and the students were encouraged to reach out for advice, guidance, and support. The Des Moines University team would like to set up a new program within the DMU PA program to provide these informational and hands on sessions to middle and high school students at least four times a year.

  • Team Video
    • This video was posted on Facebook and Instagram and was used during the school visit. It will also be used going forward in all school visits to teach about the PA profession.

The DeSales University team did a virtual presentation via Zoom to a local 4th grade class. The students used a slideshow presentation to educate the students on what PAs are, what they do and where they do it, and basic information on becoming a PA. They also reviewed a simple medical case with the class. Because a majority of the students were Hispanic, the team utilized materials in both English and Spanish.

The Duke University team created an Instagram video explaining what students need to prepare when considering PA school.

The Ithaca College team created a multi-part plan (plan themes below) that was specific to the Ithaca College mission and it’s prospective students, and aimed to implement awareness through a variety of in-person and virtual experiences. These experiences included in-person events around the Ithaca area such as the Apple Festival, New Visions, and a presentation with Ithaca High School. The students created a 3-5 minute video highlighting JEDI values and directing potential learners to the annual presentation during PA Week. The Ithaca team has created plans for the future cohorts to offer services to minority students and underrepresented communities through shadowing opportunities, resume, interview, and prerequisite review, and starting a foundation to assist underrepresented students as they apply to PA programs.


The multi-part plan was centered around themes of:

  • Collaboration – The team created an advertising video that highlights JEDI values and directs prospective students to a future virtual meeting, in-person advertisement of Project Access was done at the Ithaca Apple Festival (a community event), and a virtual experience was utilized for students of various programs to learn about the PA profession and to provide resources regarding PA admissions.
  • Awareness – The team identified areas in which minoritized individuals and underserved populations are at a significant disadvantage based on the color of their skin, sexual identity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. The team then directed students towards resources their program has developed with those realizations in mind.
  • Education – The team aimed to provide information about the profession and resources to those who may not have the opportunity to make decisions on their education to follow a path that leads to becoming a PA. Members of the student team shared their stories in the hopes of creating connections based on similar trials and tribulations the potential learners may have faced in their own lives.
  • Making Change – The PA Class of 2023 has already begun making changes to the PA program by-laws to implement this program with each future cohort to preserve its longevity and set expectations.

The MCPHS University Boston team conducted presentations for two different schools, one in-person and one via Zoom. They created a PowerPoint to share with the students to help them become familiar with the PA profession and how PAs can expand access to care in underserved communities. For the in-person presentation, the team brought some of their medical equipment (BP cuff, stethoscope, tuning forks, opthalmoscopes) to demonstrate what tools a PA can utilize.

The Northwestern College team presented to middle school students in their biology class. They opened with an informative PowerPoint presentation describing the PA profession and then broke into small groups for PA skills stations which included ortho splinting, heart and lung auscultation, epi pen trainer administration/tourniquet practice for vein identification, and CC/HPI gathering.

The University of Washington MEDEX Northwest team presented to 6th grade health and science students at a local middle school across three different class periods. One day prior to the visit, the learners completed a pre-test concerning their knowledge regarding the PA profession, and the learners viewed the “Project Access: My PA Path” video. On the Project Access event day, the team presented a variety of activities, listed below:

  1. Intitial questions based on the current lessons being taught in the health and science course, to include microbiomes and metabolism.
  2. The team deconstructed the PAEA Project Access Toolkit into a Kahoot! presentation/game and questions were presented throughout the presentation for which the students were allowed to pick an answer choice.
  3. The team presented key information about the PA profession, the importance of representation in the PA profession (with the presenters sharing their personal journeys), and reiterated the need for the students to (hopefully) consider joining the PA profession, but most importantly the hope for them to be happy and successful.
  4. A medical equipment demonstration with students allowed to try out the equipment and ask questions.

After completion of the Project Access event, the team had a series of post-presentation assignments. Each student attendee should use their talents (e.g. art, music, TikTok videos, etc.) to describe what a PA is and why diversity is important in the profession. They also completed a post-test concerning their knowledge regarding the PA profession.

The Wingate University team presented to six classes at four different schools in one day. The team’s presentation included an informative PowerPoint, which incorporated TikTok videos, a test of the student attendees’ knowledge on the information presented, a demonstration of the usage of ultrasound when evaluating for injuries.

The Yale University PA Online Team created a series of “mini” commercials/PSAs about what a PA is, who can be a PA, where they work and what they can do. The 1-3 minute videos were posted on a variety of social media platforms and shown to three different high schools.

Student-Led Competition Photos

Project photos submitted by programs:


Showcase the PA Profession

Our programs and students know how crucial it is to eliminate the systemic barriers that keep learners from accessing resources and opportunities to enter the health professions, and they lead the way in modeling how these barriers can be eliminated by hosting Project Access events in their local communities throughout the year.

Project Access At the Forum

We will coordinate visits to high schools in the San Diego area, and we’re looking for volunteers to join us and share their stories. The presentations will take place at local high schools within 25 minutes of the host hotel October 13-14. Please indicate your interest prior to September 9.

Volunteer

Host An Event

All groups are welcome and encouraged to utilize our toolkit, post-event surveys, sample presentation, and downloadable resources.

Project Access Toolkit

In-Person Event Photos

Photos from Project Access events taking place all over the country, year-round:


Project Access History

All photos below provided by the PA History Society’s AAPA Photograph Collection.

In 1987, Brenda Jasper was the driving force behind launching Project Access for potential Physician Assistant Students. This process started by visiting K-12 classrooms and educating those students on healthcare and the profession.

Timeline
1987: Project Access Begins
AAPA’s Minority Affairs Committee establishes Project Access under the direction of Brenda Jasper and Peggy Valentine.
AAPA4.009: Brenda Jasper was director of the Howard PA program for a number of years, was APAP’s Vice President (one of the first African Americans in APAP leadership) was a driving force behind the creation of Project Access and the AAPA African Heritage Caucus, 1987.

SIC00364: Peggy Valentine and unidentified PA with Project Access speaking to high school students, undated
1988: Project Access Events at AAPA/APAP National Conference
• May – AAPA/APAP Conference Project Access in Los Angeles, CA
1989: Project Access Events at AAPA/APAP National Conference
• May – AAPA/APAP Conference Project Access in Washington, D.C.
AAPA4.044: Robert Howell presents to Project Access classroom. Joyce Nichols in far left, 1989.
1990: Project Access Events at AAPA/APAP National Conference
• May – AAPA/APAP Conference Project Access in New Orleans, LA
1991: Project Access Events at AAPA/APAP National Conference
• May – AAPA/APAP Conference Project Access in San Francisco, CA
1997: Project Access Events at AAPA National Conference
• AAPA Conference Project Access in Minneapolis, MN
AAPA6.061: Group shot: Project Access participants and educators. Minneapolis Conference, 1997.
2010: Project Access is Re-Launched by AAPA’s Committee on Diversity and PAEA’s Committee on Ethnic & Cultural Diversity
• May – AAPA Conference Project Access in Atlanta, GA.
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Baltimore, MA
2011: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
• May – AAPA Conference Project Access in Las Vegas, NV
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in New Orleans, LA
2012: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
• May – AAPA Conference Project Access in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Seattle, WA
2013: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
• May – AAPA Conference Project Access in Washington, DC
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Memphis, TN
2014: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
• May – AAPA Conference Project Access in Boston, MA
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Philadelphia, PA
2015: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
May – AAPA Conference Project Access in San Francisco, CA
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Washington, DC
2016: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
May – AAPA Conference Project Access in San Antonio, TX
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in
2017: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
May – AAPA Conference Project Access in Las Vegas, NV
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Denver, CO
2018: Project Access Events at PAEA National Conference
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Anaheim, CA
2019: Project Access Events at AAPA & PAEA National Conferences
May – AAPA Conference Project Access in Denver, CO
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in Washington, DC
2020: Project Access Local Event Push
PAEA spent 2020 promoting the Project Access Toolkit and highlighting the importance of PA programs doing local Project Access events
2021: Inaugural PAEA Project Access Student-Led Competition
PA students from all over the country created innovative presentations and hosted Project Access events in their local communities during PA Week.
2022: Project Access Events & Student-Led Competition
• May – AAPA launches Project Access Re-Ignite at national conference
• October – PAEA Education Forum Project Access in San Diego, CA
• PAEA Project Access Student-Led Competition