PA Students Impact Underserved Immigrant Community

MGH Institute of Health Professions PA student Emily Thatcher is doing her part to make healthcare accessible to all. With the support of 2 PA faculty members and the school administration, Emily and 8 of her classmates developed and implemented a successful health initiative that served the immigrant population of Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Initially, PA students who were fluent in Spanish planned to teach five health literacy classes. However, as the project began, the students identified additional health disparities that their outreach could address. Thus, not only did Emily and her peers conduct informative health classes; but they also provided screenings for immunization clinics, aided the city in a statewide emergency preparedness drill, held a clothing drive for displaced Puerto Rican families affected by the 2017 hurricane season, and attended Board of Health meetings.

This project had its challenges. Scheduling conflicts and language barriers occasionally required identification of alternative strategies to reach and address the needs of the target population.

Ultimately, the PA students positively impacted more than 260 community members, and their hard work did not go unnoticed. The Chelsea City government was extremely supportive, and MGHIHP feels confident that it will be asked to continue to serve this community.

“This project was an example that PA students can be a force within their communities, even amidst the rigors of their studies.  It was empowering for students to be able to connect with and teach community members not only more about the PA profession but about key health topics that affect us all so close to home.” Emily Thatcher, PA student

Plans are already in place to continue this outreach with MGHIHP’s incoming PA class; and the posters, online resources, emails, and education materials will support future health literacy sessions.

This project was supported by the nccPA Health Foundation’s Be the CHANGE grant.

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