Honoring Juneteenth: Duke University PA Program Shares 3 Actions to Improve Equity in PA Education

In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation laid the foundation to end slavery, but it wasn’t until more than two years later, on June 19, 1865, that the ending of the Civil War was announced in Galveston, Texas, two months after its effective conclusion. Today, we are still striving for the promise of freedom to be fully realized in our nation. 

More than 150 years later, on June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, recognizing June 19 as a federal holiday commemorating this pivotal moment in our nation’s history. We celebrate this action but recognize that it is one step in a long road toward equity, inclusion, and health for all.  

In 2020, PAEA asked members to share their top areas of focus for the coming year. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) was overwhelmingly listed as the number one priority among our members.   

Reflections from the Duke University PA Program 

In honor of Juneteenth, we spoke with Dr. Jacqueline Barnett, DHSc, MSHS, PA-C of the Duke University PA Program, which has a long history of hiring, training, and promoting educators who have been instrumental in striving toward equity and justice in the PA profession. 

Dr. Barnett offered practical advice for PA programs looking to dismantle racism and create equitable environments. “One does not need to go far to look for social injustices,” she said. “They are hidden in plain sight in our PA programs.” 

Here are three simple areas for PA programs to explore:   

1.     Reflect on the matriculation rates of BIPOC students. If they are not matriculating into your program, critically asses the potential bias that exists in your admission criteria, rubrics, and other processes that cultivate this outcome. 

2.     Reflect on hiring practices. Instead of saying you do not have qualified BIPOC applicants, think about your program’s recruitment strategies, the composition of search committees, and who your committee is considering to be qualified. 

3.     Conduct curriculum reviews and think about how bias, which can become ingrained in our students, as well as raced-based stereotypes that perpetuate health disparities, are showing up in educational materials and assessment questions. 

For more information and resources, explore PAEA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toolkit.