Women’s History Month: Five PAs to Teach Your Students About This Month
This March, PAEA is honoring Women’s History Month, which celebrates women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. We are fortunate to walk in the footsteps of extraordinary women who have made groundbreaking strides in equality, advocacy, innovation, and more.
This month, PAEA aims to uplift and honor the women who have advanced the PA profession. Kick off Women’s History Month by teaching your students about several prominent PAs who changed the profession for their patients and future generations of PA leaders.
Joyce Nichols, PA-C
Joyce Nichols – the first female PA – graduated from the Duke PA program in 1970. Joyce went on to have a successful career as a PA and advocate for rural health care and underserved populations. She also championed encouraging underrepresented individuals to join the profession. A month before Joyce passed away, she was interviewed by John Davis and Earl Echard in her home. Listen to it here.
Maryann Ferrara Ramos, MPH, PA-C Emeritus
Maryann Ramos, a pentagon PA, served bravely after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caring for patients on-site at the Pentagon Clinic in Washington, DC. In addition, Ms. Ramos served as president of the Physician Assistant for Latino Health Caucus, receiving the Meritorious Service Award in 2010. Read about her incredible service here.
Karen Bass, PA
Karen Bass was the first PA to be elected to the US House of Representatives in 2010 and is currently serving her sixth term in office. Before serving in the US Congress, she was chair of the Select Committee on Foster Care and vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. She also has the distinction of being the first Black woman elected as Speaker of the California House, serving in that role from 2008 to 2010.
Representative Bass also served as the director of USC Keck School of Medicine Primary Care PA Program’s Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), designed to increase the number of individuals from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds that enter health and allied health professions programs. She helped establish Project Prepare for the USC PA program, which provided opportunities for individuals interested in becoming PAs to shadow PAs at work and learn firsthand how to improve their credentials for acceptance into a PA program. As an active member of the AAPA African Heritage Caucus, she participated in Project Access, designed to introduce high school students to the PA profession during AAPA annual meetings. Learn more.
Tonia Poteat, PhD, MPH, PA-C
Tonia Poteat has spent most of her career helping to fight HIV through information campaigns and setting up HIV clinics, both nationally and abroad. She has recently become more focused on preventing the spread of HIV within the LGBTQIA communities, especially the transgender community. Listen to her oral history to learn how she became a PA, how she became interested in working with HIV patients, her advice for volunteer opportunities, and her advice for new PAs.
Hayley Arceneaux, PA-C
Bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux became the youngest American and the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space at age 29. Hayley was chosen as one of four people to join Jared Isaacman, pilot and founder of payment processing company Shift4 Payments, on his charitable mission titled Inspiration4. Isaacman announced the mission in 2021 with a pledge to raise $200 million for St. Jude to help fight childhood cancer. Read more about Hayley here.
These are just a few of the women who transformed and are still transforming the PA profession. Find more inspiring stories of women making a difference on the PA History Society’s Women’s History Month webpage.