STAR Recipient Investigates EDI Practices in the PAEA Program Survey

Shani Fleming, MSHS, MPH, PA-C

PAEA is pleased to announce that Shani Fleming, MSHS, MPH, PA-C, associate professor in the University of Maryland Baltimore PA program, executive member of the Physician Assistant Leadership and Learning Academy (PALLA), and graduate school chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer, and her team have been chosen to contribute questions to the 2023 PAEA Program Survey. 

“The PA profession has a unique opportunity to take the lead among health professions in building a workforce that truly reflects the diverse populations we serve. The invaluable data obtained through the STAR award will help us gauge how PA programs are actively addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion, serving as a benchmark for progress,” Fleming said. 

The Program Survey collects demographic data, but the added STAR questions develop an understanding of how PA programs define diversity and inclusion, what diversity and inclusion goals PA programs have established, how PA programs assess diversity and inclusion-related goals and recruitment and retention strategies, and what diversity and inclusion resources PA programs make available.

The purpose of this study, “Diversity and Inclusion, A1.11 Standard Impact Assessment,” is to identify how PA programs are complying with the A1.11 standard. The goal is to clarify and operationalize policies or practices that recruit and retain matriculants and graduates from diverse backgrounds. 

PA programs must remain committed to PAEA’s mission of Health for All. The A1.11 standard aligns with combatting deeply rooted health disparities and social inequities. In response, PA programs need to recruit and retain student cohorts that reflect the community that they serve and create an educational climate rooted in cultural humility. To do so, PA programs need a framework of policies and practices that meet the objectives of standard A1.11. 

The research team originally formed a grassroots initiative, “PA Educators for Anti-Racism,” whose members bring their expertise in qualitative and quantitative methodology, advocacy, PA program management, DEI leadership, and accreditation. Several members have worked on grants, initiatives, leadership opportunities, and research fellowships from both AAPA and PAEA. 

Fleming and her team encourage other PA faculty to pursue research. They understand the struggle of juggling multiple projects.  But Fleming’s team said the faculty at any program don’t have to do it alone. Instead, the team suggested PA educators find a team and “divide and conquer.”

Fleming’s team shared the work by carving out time to brainstorm and share ideas, and everyone contributed to the study design and writing the proposal. Being incredibly committed and passionate about the topic area also helped them prioritize tasks and overcome barriers. 

Learn more about PAEA research grants and support programs on the PAEA website and direct any questions to PAEA Research at or 703-651-8540.