2023 PA Student of the Year Advocates for Change

Using her Struggles to Fuel her Passion, Deepthi Krishna Fights for a Better Healthcare Future

May 19, 2023

By Alex Morse

Deepthi Krishna

AAPA’s 2023 PA Student of the Year, Deepthi Krishna, knows first-hand the emotional and financial burden of the healthcare system. As a first-generation, non-traditional student of color, Krishna says she had to overcome economic discrimination, ageism, microaggressions, and racial disparities throughout her life.

“I have come to realize that my experiences happened for me and helped me build trauma wisdom to become a culturally competent student facilitator and a future PA advocating for change,” Krishna says.

The PA Student of the Year Award honors a PA student who furthers the image of PAs and PA students; gives self-sacrificing time and effort in service to community; demonstrates leadership and professionalism; and exemplifies the PA profession’s philosophy of providing accessible, quality healthcare to all.

Krishna is a clinical-year student in the Canisius College PA Program in Buffalo, New York. “Close encounters with emotional and financial burden of a challenging healthcare system as a kid encouraged me to pursue a career in healthcare,” she says. “Overcoming personal adversities and sharing in the responsibility as a primary caregiver for my family strengthened my resolve.”

As a PA student with a strong desire to make change, Krishna reached out to student societies across New York to advocate for patients and PAs. She is active in several PA organizations, including the New York State Society of PAs (NYSSPA), PA Students for Leadership, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Diversity (PA-S LEAD), the Western New York PA Association (WNYPAA), and the PA Education Association (PAEA).

As NYSSPA student director, she met with faculty and student representatives from all four programs in Western New York and urged them to have their students send Governor Hochul a letter to encourage the signing a bill to allow PAs to serve as primary care practitioners for purposes of Medicaid managed care plans. In addition, she encouraged PAs and PA students to voice their support for the Governor’s 2023-24 budget, to make sure PAs are represented.

“Students should be actively involved in lobbying efforts to bring positive changes to our profession,” Krishna says. She hopes to continue her advocacy efforts for PA students and the PA profession after she graduates, to prevent others from struggling as she has.

Krishna is involved in NYSSPA’s DEI, social media, and communications efforts, and is also the co-chair of student membership subcommittees. This allows her to advocate for students’ needs and ensure their voices are represented.

As author of PA-S LEAD’s monthly newsletters, Krishna deliberately chooses topics to advance DEI efforts in PA academia and improve healthcare culture – and she also assembled a financial guide available on the NYSSPA website that other students can use early in their PA school journeys.

NYSSPA leaders attest that Krishna is an involved and aspiring leader who works to ensure students feel comfortable sharing concerns and seeking her advice, guidance, and ability to connect them to the right resources.

“I am deeply humbled to receive this award. Not only is this an acknowledgement of my efforts and hard work but also a recognition of my potential to contribute as a healthcare professional,” Krishna says. “I hope this motivates other PA students, as well as my own daughter, to aim higher and believe that their sincere efforts will not go unrecognized.”

Alex Morse is AAPA’s Communications Associate. She can be reached at [email protected]

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