CO Outreach and Advocacy Award Recipient Engages Both PAs and Patients

The Georgia Association of PAs Works to Further Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

May 19, 2023

By Sarah Blugis

This year’s CO Outreach and Advocacy Award recipient is the Georgia Association of PAs (GAPA), recognized for their outstanding work in 2022. AAPA’s Outreach and Advocacy Awards are presented each year to recognize constituent organizations (COs) for their creative and innovative programs and projects that align with AAPA’s strategic plan and commitments to the PA profession.

Last year, GAPA took on a wide array of programs and projects that not only helped to advance the profession, but also benefited patients in Georgia.

GAPA established the Engage Program to connect aspiring PAs to shadowing and mentorship opportunities with practicing PAs. Through various PA partnerships, pre-PAs and PA students are connected to resources for professional development and provided opportunities to serve.

In a video feature called Q&A at the VA, GAPA partnered with the Veteran Affairs PA Association to highlight how PAs go beyond in their daily duties at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The information provided helped students and practicing PAs better understand the role PAs play at the VA.

To engage their community, GAPA has also prioritized service-focused events. GAPA’s Diversity Committee joined with local organizations to participate in health fairs and clothing drives throughout the city of Atlanta. The chapter also partnered with South College PA Program to help educate patients, especially those who live in areas where lack of healthcare access is an issue, on the importance of annual breast cancer screenings.

Malatrice Montgomery, MMSC, PA-C, is GAPA’s Diversity Committee Chair. She says the committee is tasked with ensuring that GAPA holds itself to the highest standard by providing a welcoming environment for every member; promoting strategies for equity and inclusion; and allowing every PA and patient to feel valued and respected.

Malatrice Montgomery, MMSC, PA-C, is GAPA’s Diversity Committee Chair.

Furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a particular focus for GAPA. Through education webinars for their members, they cover topics that focus on health disparities in patient care and the importance of cultural competence. Their Diversity Digest includes monthly conversations with student diversity leaders from PA programs in Georgia, covering DEI-related issues from the student perspective. GAPA’s Diversity Committee also partnered with Mercer University’s PA program for a Project Access event to help raise awareness about the PA profession among underrepresented high school students.

“There is still more work to be done, but I believe our education webinars, community service efforts, and open conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion have laid a positive foundation for the future,” Montgomery says.

For her part, Montgomery chose to become a PA because of close family and friends who struggled with cancer. “I became a PA because the profession fulfills my desire to provide empathetic care to patients,” she says. “Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of being a PA is the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of the patients we serve.”

GAPA’s many successful projects and initiatives are only successful, Montgomery says, because of the many people working behind the scenes: the management team, committee members, executive team and board of directors, and other representatives who all work together to advocate for and advance the profession.

“Receiving awards isn’t the reason we serve, but this recognition provides momentum for us to keep moving forward in our efforts to serve our members, our patients, and our communities,” Montgomery says. “I am proud to be part of a diverse organization that empowers and affords PAs a voice in legislation, protects the right to practice, provides meaningful connections, and the edge to succeed through quality education.”

Sarah Blugis is AAPA’s Internal Communications Manager. She can be reached at [email protected].

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