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Our Department of Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) aims to continue to reflect the inherent and equal value of all people.  

We embrace our role of preparing the next generation of Physician Assistants (PAs) to be comprised of and ready to care for people of all abilities/disabilities, religions, cultures, marital statuses, familial statuses, sexes, ages, sexual orientations, veteran statuses, national origins, ancestries, races, colors, genetic information, gender identities and expressions, and socioeconomic statuses.  

The PAS Department at SHRS is: 

  • Diversifying the identities among practicing PAs 
  • Maintaining and advancing the climate of inclusivity among the students, staff and faculty of our department 
  • Preparing PAs to be ready for and embrace the opportunity to care for patients of all identities, experiences, backgrounds and perspectives. 

We hope this initiative will have many positive impacts, especially providing care for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations while supporting any members of those populations who pursue the goal of practicing as PAs. 

This PAS Inclusion initiative aligns with: 

  • Our university’s goal and strategies to promote Diversity and Inclusion
  • The mission of our Office of Health Sciences Diversity (OHSD) 
  • The values that define our School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) 

The goals of our department and programs are shared and supported by our school. SHRS’ commitment to inclusion, equity, diversity and belonging and remains a priority, as evidenced by the creation of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement (OEDICE) and the appointment of Nancy Gauvin as associate dean, and her dedicated team, Senior Director for Strategic Programs and Services Anastasia White and Program Coordinator Sam Mozden, who work closely with the Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) team to support the development of a diverse community of providers and promote health equity. Their research-based work can be found in their Health Equity Access Lab (HEAL) lab. 


Pitt PA is working to:

Communicate our strengths 

  • The department:  
    • utilizes a social identity wheel exercise during orientation week (residential);  
    • explores our biases and systemic and structural inequities during Health Policy course lectures and work, including use and self-reflection of the Harvard Implicit Association Test results to help our students explore and understand their various identities and how those inform their work and their relationships.  
  • PA Studies faculty are engaged in many important and exciting opportunities to shape the profession and the University in the justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (JEDI-B) realm.
    • Examples include:  
      • Community, Partnership, Identity, and Dialogue (CuPID) a project led by Susan Graff, MS, PA-C 
      • Carlos Gutierrez, EdD, MMS, PA-C is the President-Elect and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Chair at the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants. 
      • Dipu Patel, DMSc, MPAS, PA-C is the President Elect for the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Board of Directors  
      • Kathryn Reed, MS, PA-C was nominated and awarded the PAEA New Faculty Award for Professional Excellence in 2023  
      • And many more! 
  • Faculty Training 
    • Continued enhancements to the PA Studies curriculum by our Departmental Curriculum Accessibility and Inclusion Taskforce strengthens cultural competence and humility training, emphasizes the necessity for continual evaluation and learning to create high-quality content and instruction, and embeds the tenents of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging longitudinally throughout the Department.   
    • Our faculty search committee members have completed briefing sessions with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to guide our efforts and limit biases in recruiting, retaining, and recognizing an excellent and diverse faculty. 
    • We're connecting interested applicants and our enrolled PA students, staff and faculty with university resources. 
    • Several of our faculty members are working on PAEA, AAPA and state committees to improve JEDI-B in the profession itself. 
  • Student Organizations 
    • Students of the residential PA Studies Program launched and are continuing to develop the PA Students Promoting Diversity and Inclusion (PASPDI) organization as a means of supporting all of our current students, connecting current students with university and community resources and events, and fostering inclusive mindsets of PA students as they prepare to care for all patients.  
    • Examples of events and initiatives led by PASPDI include: a DE&I Listening Session demonstrating the use and importance of inclusive language, voluntary review of guest lecture PowerPoints to improve inclusive language and foster education of our adjunct lecturers, planning and staffing community health fairs with booths to check blood pressure, check blood glucose levels, and provide anticipatory guidance to community members. 
    • Students of the Hybrid PA Studies Program are diligently working in their Hybrid Physician Assistant Student Society ad-hoc Diversity Committee to plan ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions for the Department. 

Strengthen our partnerships 

  • We're enhancing our engagement with the OHSD and SHRS OEDICE in order to support their efforts and better connect our students, staff and faculty to their efforts in regular and meaningful ways. 
  • We're implementing University, OHSD and SHRS OEDICE resources to support efforts and events aimed at advancing diversity and inclusion within our Department. 

Advance our efforts 

Our goal is to spread this initiative across SHRS and beyond our school to the community and the profession. 

  • Renovate Systems: We are analyzing and continually refining our admissions process to minimize biases and continue to ensure equal opportunities for all applicants. 
    • Our MS Programs’ Directors of Admission, Amy Brown, MPH, MPAS, PA-C and Tara McSwigan, MPAS, PA-C, are completing a study as part of their DPAS program to determine if asynchronous bias training prior to the admissions process helps faculty members remain more objective and acknowledge their biases as they review applications. 
  • Seek Opportunities: We're collaborating with community organizations in Pittsburgh to foster interest in and understanding of the PA profession, especially among children and adolescents from underserved communities. 
    • Examples include: 
      • The Future Health Care Provider Outreach Program (FHCPOP) which began after PA students shared their desire to begin sharing information about the PA profession with younger community members. The FHCPOP has grown into an interdisciplinary program providing experiential, career-oriented monthly learning events led by SHRS faculty and students for middle and high school learners from underrepresented in medicine backgrounds. 
      • The Multi-Cultural Pre-Health Panel Series began after a PA student suggested that we host a panel discussion for undergraduate students led by current graduate students from underrepresented communities in order to improve visibility of the careers and foster mentoring relationships. These events now occur once a semester. 
      • Each year, the DPAS program recognizes one Capstone Project as the recipient of the DPAS program’s JEDI Award 
        • This award recognizes an individual or group who has demonstrated a commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in their community, workplace or educational setting. 
        • The criteria for this award include: 
          • project focused on active engagement in promoting social justice 
          • advocacy for marginalized groups 
          • leadership in creating a more inclusive environment 
          • demonstrated commitment to fostering a culture of equity and inclusion
          • cultural competency and humility 
          • demonstrated the ability to forge relationships with people from diverse backgrounds to represent and advocate for the PA profession 
  • We acknowledge and want to broaden the diversity among PA students and practicing PAs, inclusive of all abilities/disabilities, religions, marital statuses, familial statuses, sexes, ages, sexual orientations, veteran statuses, national origins, ancestries, races, colors, genetic information, gender identities and expressions, and socioeconomic statuses.