2021 Outstanding Student Society Didn’t Let the Pandemic Hold them Back

Morehouse School of Medicine Held Events Focused on Diversity, Community Outreach

May 26, 2021

By Sarah Blugis

Morehouse School of Medicine PA Program, Class of 2021

Despite the challenges that 2020 presented, members of the Morehouse School of Medicine Henry Lee “Buddy” Treadwell PA Student Society were determined to find ways to hold community-focused events – even under difficult circumstances. As a relatively new PA program, they wanted to make their mark.

The Outstanding Student Society award recognizes one student society for outstanding service to the profession in the areas of public education and advocacy; public service and outreach; promotion of diversity; and professional involvement.

Amanze Onwuka, the Student Academy Representative for the Morehouse School of Medicine, says that their society does not take this recognition lightly – especially given the uncertainty in the world.

“During this time, my classmates and I grew closer as a family, and we were determined not to let this moment pass us,” Onwuka says. “From the creation of our scholarship to the protest of the injustices in the world, I could not have asked for a better student society to be a part of during my time in PA school.”

Throughout 2020, the Morehouse School of Medicine PA Program focused many of their events on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Over the summer, the society joined other programs on campus in a march to the Georgia State Capitol to advocate for social justice and highlight disparities in health equity. The society also took part in the White Coats for Black Lives March with staff from Grady Memorial Hospital. During PA Week, held annually from October 6-12, the program hosted an in-depth discussion on why diversity matters in the PA profession, obstacles to achieving diversity in PA cohorts, and the experiences of PAs and PA students.

Morehouse PA Students attending a march

To support future Morehouse School of Medicine PA students from minority backgrounds and rural communities, the society created the Henry Lee “Buddy” Treadwell Inaugural PA Student Society Scholarship, fully funded by students of the inaugural class – the Class of 2021. The group also created and sold a solidarity T-shirt, highlighting the need for students of different health professions to stand together for health equity, as a fundraiser for their scholarship.

Last year, the society launched a peer mentorship program for PA students. The program matched each member of the Class of 2021 with one to two members of the Class of 2022, with the goal of supporting students through both the didactic and clinical phases of the program.

Reaching out to the community was also a priority for the society. Students participated in a First Look to introduce undergraduate students to the PA profession, aided a local church in organizing and distributing clothing, held a pre-Thanksgiving food drive for homeless individuals in downtown Atlanta, and made calls to over 50 seniors at senior living residences in Atlanta. Through this outreach, students screened high-risk, older patients for COVID-19, helped them with medication refills, and connect them with resources like food and transportation.

“The PA profession is committed to service,” Onwuka says. “Whether we are caring for our patients, creating health equity in our communities, or closing gaps in care in a pandemic, service is one idea that binds everyone in this profession together. We are all striving to be the best we can in every situation.”

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