Meharry Medical College’s Inaugural PA Sciences Class Travels 900 Miles to Spread Awareness About Increasing the 3.6 Percent

The inaugural Meharry Medical College (MMC) Physician Assistant (PA) Sciences class took their cowboy boots to the Big Apple to celebrate the launch of National Physician Assistant Week at The Academy of Physician Assistants’ (AAPA) annual PAs on the Plaza event hosted by Good Morning America and The Today Show.

For this awareness spreading opportunity, 12 of the 25 Meharry students were among a crowd of fellow PA students on October 6 at Rockefeller Plaza with The Today Show hosts. The students spoke about the PA profession, the mission of the Meharry Medical College PA program, and the emergent need for diversity and representation in the Physician Assistant profession.

Though the Meharry PA class profile identifies as 100 percent underrepresented in medicine, the students attending PAs on the Plaza, amongst the patterned lack of representation at this event and within the profession, emphasized the need for recruitment, diversity, support, retainment, and representation of minoritized PAs to provide equitable care nation-wide as only 3.6 percent of certified PAs identify as Black or Brown.

A study conducted by Hardeman and other researchers at The University of Minnesota analyzed the hospital records of over two million births at a Florida hospital and reported that when the primary care provider for Black babies was also Black, the post-partum mortality rate of Black newborns was nearly cut in half.

For Meharry PA students, they have been challenged since the inception of the program in January through clinical skills, public health, applied medicine, interprofessional collaboration, community service, and clinical medicine curriculum to demonstrate cultural humility, provide evidence-based and compassionate care to all patients, and people they encounter, and to foster a commitment to community service in underserved populations through equity, justice, and lifelong learning because they understand that representative care provides equitable care.

Standing on the backs of African American PAs who laid the foundation for the profession, such as PA Henry “Buddy” Treadwell, the Meharry PA students carried the torch in boldness amongst their fellow PA colleagues on October 6 at Rockefeller Plaza.