Webinar Provides Insight on Challenges for URiM PA Applicants

During PAEA’s first Deep Dive into EDI Research webinar, we learned about potential factors contributing to a low-matriculation rate for underrepresented in medicine (URiM) PA applicants.

Facilitators Mirela Bruza, MS, PA-C, Bettie Coplan, PhD, PA-C, and Janie McDaniel, MS, MLS(ASCP)SC, examined the influence of healthcare-related pre-admission experiences on PA program matriculation. Wendiann Sethi, PhD, contributed to the research but was not available to present for the webinar.  

The learning objectives were to:  

  1. Describe PA program matriculation rates for individuals underrepresented in medicine (URiM). 
  2. Discuss the influence of academic metrics and non-academic factors on the likelihood of matriculation into a PA program. 
  3. Recommend strategies that have the potential to improve matriculation rates for URiM applicants. 

The influence that measures of academic achievement can have on URiM matriculation into PA school has been studied. However, little attention has been focused on the potential impact that other pre-admission factors may have. The primary aim of this research is to determine whether non-academic pre-admission factors contribute to the likelihood of PA school matriculation among URiM applicants.  

In their analysis, the presenters said they learned that URiM applicants were more likely to report no patient care experience when compared to non-URiM applicants. They found that 88.2 percent of PA programs require (42.1 percent) or prefer (46.1 percent) direct patient care experience and that having any patient care experience increases the odds of matriculation for URiM applicants. 

Bruza, Coplan, and McDaniel recommend that PA programs reconsider the types of patients care they accept and reevaluate how much weight is given to shadowing and volunteering. They asked participants to consider why such a high value is placed on shadowing when Hegmann and Iverson found no relationship between preadmission clinical experience hours and clinical outcomes assessed during PA school (2016).  

They recommend PA programs explore alternatives opposed to traditional patient care experience as it is a barrier for many URiM applicants. Other recommendations include encouraging individual PAs to reach out and provide shadowing opportunities to potential applicants, and that PA programs should provide more support for costs associated with applying. 

To watch the recorded webinar, click here.  

To read the research article in JPAE, click here.