AAPA Reports on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts To Date

Leadership, Listening, Learning, and Action Shape Methodical Approach

October 1, 2020

In early June, AAPA made a commitment to examine how to better exemplify the values of the PA profession, now and in the future. We pledged support for the Black community and to do our part in the fight against racism and explicit and implicit bias while promoting equity and justice in healthcare.

AAPA is thankful for the many PAs and PA students who have come forward, bravely shared their stories, and offered strategies and insights on how to move our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts forward at AAPA and within the PA profession. This important and essential work requires a thoughtful, collaborative approach, with the goal of implementing sustainable initiatives that affect real change.

While AAPA has reported on some of this work previously, we wanted to provide a comprehensive view of the work that has been accomplished these last few months:

Establishing a leadership structure within AAPA to advance DEI efforts among volunteers and staff:

  • AAPA’s Board of Directors established an AAPA DEI Commission. Director-at-Large CDR Billy Collins, DHSc, MS, PA-C, led an ad hoc committee to create meaningful and measurable commission charges, which were approved by the Board in September.
  • AAPA’s Andrea Lowe, MHA, PA-C, director of employer strategy, was appointed “AAPA DEI Business Partner.” She will serve as staff liaison to the DEI Commission, external partners, and will also lead an internal staff DEI task force to identify and support DEI efforts within AAPA.
  • The Board also established a fellowship for under-represented minority leaders. Details of the fellowship are still in the development phase and will be among the charges of the newly established DEI Commission.
  • AAPA is currently working on the next five-year strategic plan to lead the profession into the future. This summer we stepped up our work to ensure that DEI will have a strong presence in this plan along with measurable objectives. It will be rolled out during the first quarter of 2021.

Creating opportunities to listen in order to develop shared understanding of experiences and to ideate on opportunities for growth:

  • AAPA hosted two listening sessions in June for all PAs to hear from Black PAs and PAs of color about their experience with racism and their recommendations for action. What was heard will help inform the work of the DEI commission. (We thank Susan Salahshor, PhD, PA-C, DFAAPA, for her expert facilitation, and Camille Dyer, PA-C, DFAAPA, president of the African Heritage PA Caucus, for her guidance preparing each session.) Soon after these sessions the PA Foundation established an additional scholarship opportunity for Black PA students, The Joyce Nichols Memorial Scholarship. This was made possible with support from seed donor, Brian Palm, PA-C, and AAPA’s Board of Directors.
  • Next, AAPA’s Board of Directors hosted a listening session with the presidents of AAPA Constituent Organizations, including the African Heritage PA Caucus, PAs for Latino Health, PAs in Asian Health, the LBGT PA Caucus, the Fellowship of Christian PAs, the Jewish Association of PAs, and PAs for Health Equity.
  • We will host an additional listening session for all PAs before the end of the year to help inform the work of AAPA’s DEI Commission going forward.

Identifying learning opportunities for staff and AAPA members to advance understanding of DEI:

  • AAPA selected an external DEI consultant, The Silverene Group, to help guide our work. With their help we executed an internal staff climate survey around DEI which informed staff DEI trainings conducted in September around language, unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and cultural literacy.
  • We look forward to sharing data around research examining barriers that underrepresented as well as sexual and gender minorities face to entering PA school. This data is part of a manuscript titled “Diversity in the PA pipeline: Experiences and barriers in admissions and PA school” recently submitted to a peer-reviewed journal by AAPA’s research team, two current and past members of the AAPA student board, as well as a past AAPA-PAEA research fellow.
  • AAPA will be hosting a CME DEI webinar on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. and we look forward to sharing more information about this very soon.

As we continue to witness a disturbing pattern of injustice and discrimination in our nation, AAPA remains committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare. We also recognize that the tenets of DEI are essential to the future of the PA profession. For questions or suggestions, please contact Andrea Lowe at [email protected].

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