PAEA Honors Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a day of celebration for all Americans as a recognition of the end of slavery. It’s also a reminder of the inequities that still exist as a result of  slavery and how those inequalities affect  PA education and the profession.

To better understand our patients and the communities we serve, healthcare professionals must understand the influences of history and historical institutions on today’s world. We must be willing to call out bias and discrimination and have the tools to implement anti-racist and anti-discriminatory practices.

According to the National Institutes of Health, cultural competence training improves the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of health professionals and impacts patient satisfaction. Looking at issues through an equity, diversity, and inclusion lens is the right thing to do but it’s also good for our students, educators, and patients.

If you’re looking for ways that your program and your staff can be active in making a difference, here are three suggestions programs can evaluate:

  • Faculty and staff hiring and student admission and recruitment practices to identify potential areas of bias or discrimination
  • Our syllabus, course materials, and curriculum for racism, stereotypes, and bias
  • Standards we’ve put in place to create inclusive learning and work environments for colleagues and students from historically excluded groups

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, only became a federal holiday in the United States in 2021 so some may need a reminder of the meaning of this important date.

This recognition provides a formal acknowledgment of the lives of enslaved people and allows us to honor the many contributions and impact that African heritage and Black culture have on our society. This national holiday also brings attention to ongoing issues of freedom, social justice, and human rights.

The end of slavery is cause for every American to celebrate. But as the great-great-granddaughter of enslaved people, the lives of those whose shoulders I stand on are not lost. Their legacy, their strength, their intuition, their tenacity, their persistence, their plight, their victories, and their survival exist in every breath that I take.

For many Black people, slavery is just a few generations removed, and the stories of our loved ones have been passed down and are engrained in our hearts and our minds. It is their spirit that carries us through. I encourage you to listen to your colleagues and your students’ stories to better understand their connection to this day and their reason for celebration.

This day of recognition not only honors our past, but also challenges us to create a better, more equitable and just future.