Historic Hill Day: HBCU Faculty and Students Advocate for PA Training and Diversity

As a component of PAEA’s efforts to expand opportunities for advocacy and leadership development, PA faculty and students from four different Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) gathered in Washington, DC on June 17 and 18 for PAEA’s first ever HBCU Hill Day.

Representing Howard University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Morehouse School of Medicine, and North Carolina A&T State University, attendees participated in one full day of policy, leadership, and advocacy training on June 17 to prepare them for meeting with their congressional members the following day. The goals were to build support for increased investments in the recruitment and training of diverse PA students and to advocate for legislation that addresses the current shortage of clinical training sites.  

On June 17, participants traveled to PAEA headquarters to network, strategize and hear from a variety of speakers who offered key insights on how to be a lifelong ambassador for PA education and the profession. The PAEA Government Relations team along with Polsinelli, LLC, began the day with an overview of the political landscape, what to expect on the Hill, and PAEA’s legislative priorities for the 118th Congress. Following this, PAEA’s Chair of the Government Relations Steering Committee, Edward Williams, DMSc, M.Ed., PA-C and PAEA Chief Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer, Emma Sellers, MS, joined students and faculty in exploring topics focused on overcoming adversity and emerging as a leader and champion for patients, communities, and fellow PA colleagues.  

The training day concluded with dedicated time for participants to plan their Hill meeting approaches with one another and hear from Caroline Drury who serves as Senior Policy Advisor for Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC). Rep. Adams is co-chair of both the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus and the Black Maternal Health Caucus and sponsored the PAEA endorsed Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act that would promote student diversity and fund infrastructure improvements for PA programs.

Drury spoke with attendees about the work of the caucuses as well as the most effective ways to engage with congressional staff, which helped to set the tone for successful congressional meetings the next day.  

During their time on the Hill, PA faculty and students encouraged members of the House and Senate to support increased funding for three programs that are vital to ensuring high-quality training and a representative PA workforce:  

  • The Health Careers Opportunity Program, which provides educational and support services for students at the K-16 level that increase awareness of the possibility of a career in the health professions and the tools necessary to achieve matriculation into a program
  • The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program, which offers marginalized students the necessary financial support to complete their program 
  • The Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions program, which provides resources to institutions like those who support PA programs at HBCUs

Additionally, in the Senate, Hill Day participants requested that offices cosponsor S.4169 – the Primary Care Team Education Centers Act. This legislation would expand clinical education at federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and similar settings for both PA and other health professions students. 

PAEA’s Government Relations team would like to thank everyone who participated for their effort and engagement that made our inaugural HBCU Hill Day so invaluable to advancing the Association’s policy goals. For those who are interested in contributing to the advancement of these and other legislative priorities, please visit the PAEA Grassroots Action Network and send a message to your elected officials via our grassroots email campaigns or contact Catherine Majewski at