Diversity in Medicine

Hey everyone, this topic today is important to me because it’s important to my life personally and in my soon to be career. Diversity in medicine is a topic that’s brought up often by schools, health care organizations, admissions committees, and more. We talk about having health care providers of different backgrounds, socioeconomic status, ethnicities, races, countries, etc., coming together, collaborating and providing the best care possible to patients of different backgrounds, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, etc. This type of inclusion and care is so important everywhere, but especially in the United States of America. We have such a large melting pot of citizens that it’s impossible to think that you will never come across a patient who doesn’t speak the same language as you or have experienced the same lifestyle you have had growing up. Since that’s a fair and expected reality for all health care providers, I think it’s becoming increasingly important to expose all races, ethnicities, people of various socioeconomic statuses to the endless opportunities of careers in medicine that they may not know about. I think the best way for people to see the role of PAs is to get involved in community projects, letting our role be known in grade schools, after school programs, universities, etc. so our field can become an option for students other than the first thought of becoming a doctor or nurse. I, myself, did not hear about the Physician Assistant profession until my undergraduate years. No wonder some patients have a hard time understanding our role in healthcare! 

I’m honestly very used to being the minority in a room full of the majority. I grew up in that type of environment in grade school, and went to a predominately white university. I don’t see anything wrong with any race or ethnicity, but I do believe that good things come with involving more diversity into medicine. There is little success in only one race/ethnicity treating patients of all races and ethnicities. Obviously, both patients and providers would have trouble relating to all cultural, social, and health disparity differences on a day to day basis. 

In 2015, the census of Black or African American Physician Assistants was 3.9%, Asian was 5.3%, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander was .4%, and American Indian and Alaskan Native was .4%. In a study from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), they found that for a variety of reasons, the quality of care differed when there was a discordance of culture or ethnicity between the provider and the patient. After this study, they called for more diversity in the healthcare workforce to decrease health disparities. The rationale behind the call for more diversity was that racial and ethnic minority health care providers are 

1) More likely to serve minority and medically underserved communities, increasing access to healthcare

2) Racial and ethnic minority patients report greater levels of satisfaction with care provided by minority health care professionals

3) Racial and ethnic minority health care professionals can help health systems to reduce cultural and linguistic barriers and improve cultural competence

4) Diversity in higher education and health care profession training settings is associated with better educational outcomes among all students. 

Some things I want to involve myself in once I become a Physician Assistant is to help the field grow by bringing awareness to our role in medicine. I believe this starts in the field by explaining my role to patients and never assuming they know who I am compared to the Physician. Next, I want to help bring more diversity into our field. I think my long term goal is to one day become some sort of director of diversity and inclusion at a Physician Assistant school after I feel satisfied with my clinical experience. So many people in the PA profession have helped me get to where I am at now, I only think it’s right to give back to students in some way. 

Thanks for reading as always! I’m grateful for the social media community and those amazing people I’ve met thus far! My hope is that, over time, the PA field will become more diverse filled with health care providers who have diverse mindsets, experiences, and backgrounds to come together and treat all patients in the best way they can! 

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