A Busy Spring for Virtual PA Education Advocacy
Following a recent string of key advocacy victories, PAEA’s Government Relations team is keeping up the pressure on Congress to continue to deliver for PA programs, faculty, and, ultimately, patients. Grassroots advocacy is critical to achieving further progress on key policy priorities, and PA faculty and students have continued to step up to the plate during a busy spring for virtual PA education advocacy.
On March 29, PAEA hosted its first-ever virtual congressional briefing on the subject of health workforce diversity for an audience of over 85 attendees. During the briefing, PAEA President Michel Statler, MLA, PA-C, offered opening remarks on the critical importance of prioritizing health equity in the federal COVID-19 response and noted PAEA’s collaboration with the Black Maternal Health Caucus on legislative solutions to troubling maternal health disparities.
Morehouse School of Medicine PA Program Director Pangela Dawson, PhD, PA-C, followed Statler and discussed the impact of workforce diversity on patient outcomes in addition to her program’s work to combat maternal health disparities. Wagner College PA Program Director Tracy Jackson, EdD, MA, PA-C, built upon Dr. Dawson’s presentation and described efforts within PA education to improve pathways to the profession for underrepresented minority students. The discussion concluded with an overview of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and how its provisions would strengthen diversity within PA education. Over the course of the coming weeks, PAEA’s Government Relations staff will be following up with participating congressional offices to build upon the work of the briefing in promoting diversity within PA education.
Following the briefing, the Government Relations team conducted the first virtual iteration of the Association’s long-standing Spring Advocacy Event on April 6 and 7. During this two-day session, more than 80 students and faculty from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, University of Colorado, and MGH Institute of Health Professions PA programs participated in advocacy training followed by direct meetings with congressional offices. The participants advocated on behalf of two bills: S. 287 – the Perinatal Workforce Act and H.R. 2274 – the Physician Assistant Higher Education Modernization Act. S. 287 would authorize $15 million annually over 5 years to PA and other health professions programs seeking to diversify their student bodies while H.R. 2274 would restore access to subsidized Stafford loans for PA students, expand PA programs at minority-serving institutions, and support the matriculation of rural students to PA education, among other provisions. These faculty and student efforts have already resulted in new congressional cosponsors for the legislation, and PAEA will continue its efforts in support of these bills throughout this year.
The Government Relations team would like to thank all faculty and student advocates for their leadership, dedication, and tireless efforts on behalf of PA education. Members interested in learning more about PAEA’s grassroots advocacy activities are invited to contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.