Looking Back: The First Year of the “EDI in Action” Series

One year ago, PAEA launched “EDI in Action,” where every month we highlight a PA program that is going above and beyond in programming related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. These stories serve as examples for PA programs across the country, who need guidance on how to best serve their underrepresented in medicine (URiM) students, faculty, and staff. Look back on 2023 with us and revisit what your colleagues have accomplished.   

For developing programs, consider learning from the Atkinson PA Education Program at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. They detail how to weave EDI principles into the fabric of your program from student admissions, faculty recruitment, curriculum, and more.  

Need guidance on recruiting a student body of varied backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences to enhance and diversify the PA workforce? Oregon Health & Science University’s PA program’s unique admissions and recruitment efforts can help guide you to transform your current structure.  

The Department of PA Sciences at Meharry Medical College recently accepted a cohort comprised of 100 percent URiM students by living true to their mission. The program’s leaders are eager to share their strategies with others.   

If you are looking to go a step further, learn about the EDGE (Empowering Diversity, Growth, and Excellence) program at Charles Drew University. This unique initiative recruits Black men who are on the precipice of acceptance into a PA program but just need that extra boost to get in.  

At Duke University’s PA program they know that mitigating bias isn’t limited to student admissions and have developed a framework for the faculty search and hiring process that ensures objectivity at every turn.  

Drexel University’s PA program recognized that even though students have been accepted, they might not be ready to dive headfirst into the curriculum. Their optional weeklong pre-matriculation orientation focuses on community building, study strategies, and practical skills such as personal finance.  

The PA programs at HBCU’s across the country are often leading the charge in EDI programming, using creativity and knowledge to advance the PA profession and decrease health disparities. For a summary of the great work being done at these programs, check out June’s article.  

Learners at Saint Elizabeth University’s PA program benefit from the Hierarchy of EDIB Learning and Development model developed by Lori Tarke, MEd, DHSc. Students learn this model in the curriculum and use it in crucial conversations about identity, emotional intelligence, self-advocacy, and the dimensions of diversity, power, and privilege. 

Seeing a gap between what students were learning in the classroom and the realities of working with queer communities, faculty at the PA program at the University of Utah School of Medicine created a three-hour workshop dedicated to increasing student’s awareness of gender construction.  

Students at Ithaca College’s PA program prove that in today’s day and age learners are hungry for EDI programming, even to the point of developing it themselves. Their student JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) committee is given an hour and a half of instruction time every other month to lead their peers in discussions about gender diversity, the accessibility of care, and implicit bias.  

A staff led EDI committee structure can be found at George Washington’s PA program where every department within the university’s medical school has an equity director who sits on the coalition. This anti-racism committee works together to problem solve, host a book club, and put on events dedicated to increase learning on issues related to race. 

We hope these stories will leave you inspired and optimistic about what’s happening in PA education to address these important EDI issues and needs. Unfortunately, much more work is needed but fortunately, these PA programs are not alone in their creativity and commitment.