Honoring Black History Month: Learn & Take Action

Photo Credit: PA History Society

This February, we invite you to join us in honoring and celebrating Black History Month. As we commemorate PAEA’s 50th Anniversary this year, we want to empower our members to learn from the past as we envision and pursue the future we want to see.  

PAEA Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Monica Miles, PhD, asked, “What do we need, what do we have, and what direction can we move in together?” As we begin Black History Month, let’s consider these questions together. 

What Do We Need?

Research suggests that there is great benefit to patients who have access to health care providers who look like them. Moreover, greater diversity in PA education, including amongst faculty and students, lifts the field as a whole by bringing together broader perspectives and different viewpoints and knowledge and behaviors that reflect and support our communities.

According to the NCCPA (2020), only 3.3% of certified PAs are Black or African American, compared to 13.4% of the US population (United States Census, 2021). We need more PAs who reflect the communities we serve, which is an invaluable benefit to our programs and communities as a whole and a vital step toward eradicating health disparities in Black Communities. We believe that creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable profession begins with our members, the PA programs and educators recruiting and investing in future PAs and leaders. 

“There is value in diversity, and we need to be excited about it,” said Shani Fleming, MSHS, MPH, PA-C, associate professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore PA program and graduate school chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer. “There need to be systematic, strategic, and sustainable changes from recruitment, admissions, curriculum, leadership and faculty development, and commitment to anti-racist policies. Only then will we fundamentally shift the environment in PA education around justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

What Do We Have?

Shared Stories

Black History Month is about more than just a series of events. This month, we honor the lived experiences of past and present Black PAs, PA educators, and PA students.

In honor of Black History Month, the PA History Society has shared a collection of stories of PAs and PA educators who changed the PA profession and gave back to the world at large. You can watch, listen, and read their oral histories, videos and biographies here. We encourage you to read their stories as well as learn, celebrate, and honor the stories and experiences of your colleagues, students, and fellow PAs this month.

PAEA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit

Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are not “one and done” initiatives that end once an accreditation standard has been met. It is an ongoing, deliberate, and constantly evolving process intended to achieve meaningful outcomes — for your PA program and sponsoring institution, as well as our profession and the patients we treat.

The PAEA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toolkit is a tangible working roadmap designed to spark new ideas and implement new initiatives to ultimately recruit, retain, and foster a more diverse and inclusive culture among students and faculty.

  • Establish your diversity, equity, and inclusion goal(s)
  • Identify implementation strategies and tactics to support each goal
  • Measure the effectiveness of those strategies
  • Readjust at critical milestones
  • Work toward continuous improvement
  • Encourage the creation of policy statements that boldly articulate your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within your program

Click here to access the toolkit and take action today.

Additionally, access the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Best Practices document, which offers guidance to PA programs in establishing policy statements and working definitions of what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean within the programs, promoting accountability, implementing new strategies, and striving toward excellence.

Diversity Professional Learning Community

PAEA Professional Learning Communities are a space to have conversations that matter in an easy and convenient format. This month, we encourage you to utilize this space to engage in critical discussions about creating safe spaces for Black PA students and colleagues, celebrating Black history, and creating a profession that better reflects our nation. Begin a conversation today.

What Direction Can We Move in Together?

With a meaningful commitment to change and tangible action, we can make progress in solidarity. This month, we encourage you to celebrate, learn, and take action. Whether that means sharing your story, learning from our history, or becoming a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) champion at your program, we are here to support you.