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The Division of Physician Assistant Studies has been awarded two grants that will support the implementation of multiple DEI-related projects over the next two years.

NCCPA STEP Up Grant: Supporting URM Students

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) awarded the Physician Assistant Studies DEI committee the PAs STEP Up Grant to support the division’s HBCU outreach and underrepresented minority (URM) student mentorship programs.

The grant will assist the committee’s two-pronged approach to increasing URM representation in the PA program through building a pipeline of URM undergraduate students from local HBCUs and creating a mentorship program for URM students within the PA program.

The committee is building a relationship and agreement with North Carolina A&T that will guarantee positions in the PA Studies program for pre-professional students interested in applying for the program. These students will be supported during the application process through assistance with transcript preparation, gaining field experience, editing professional statements and more.

“Our goal is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who apply for our program and provide ample support during the application process,” said Chileatha Wynn, PA-C, Clinical Assistant Professor within the Division of Physician Assistant Studies. “Historically, if URM students aren’t accepted the first time they apply to a graduate program, they are less likely to reapply. We want their first application attempt to be effective and give them the best chance at acceptance into the program, as our overarching goal is for the diversity within our program to be similar to that of our surrounding community.”

The grant will also support the creation of a mentorship program for URM students, particularly incoming first-year students. Mentors may include second-year  PA students and program alumni, and they will help with general development and support as first-year students begin their studies.

“We hope that the mentorship program will provide a sense of community and built-in network for incoming URM PA students,” said Wynn. “Early intervention from mentors will help build students’ confidence as they enter the challenging PA program and will offer students the opportunity to learn from and connect with others who have common professional goals and interests.”

School of Medicine DEI Mini Grant: Medical Spanish Curriculum Development

The UNC School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion awarded the division a mini grant to support the implementation of a medical Spanish curriculum for the PA program over the next two years.

The grant was awarded to the PA program and will be used for books and CCLA exam fees for those that choose to take the more advanced, second semester course of Medical Spanish. The division is currently building the curriculum and finding alliances to help with content development and delivery, and anticipate completing that process within the next two years.

“Our goals are to help increase cultural competence within the PA profession and support Spanish speaking patient populations throughout our community,” said Wynn. “We aim to encourage students who already have some level of proficiency to use medical Spanish in their clinical practice.”

This important work will make great strides thanks to the hard work of the DEI committee and support of the NCCPA and UNC’s School of Medicine.