Promoting Equitable Care for Diverse Patients

Carolyn A. Jahr, DMSc, PA-C, and PA Student Abigail E.M. DeLisle enhanced educational experiences for PA students at The College of St. Scholastica (CSS), empowering them to foster equitable care in their careers as PAs.  Their goal:  Recruit a more diverse standardized patient (SP) pool that reflects the Minnesota communities served by CSS PA students and graduates.

To get started, Carolyn and Abbey connected with community groups around Duluth, MN, including branches of the NAACP, the YWCA, divisions within the Fond du Lac Lake Superior Chippewa, the American Indian Community Housing Organization, the Center for American Indian Resources, and more.  Community partners provided helpful feedback on the project’s recruiting, training, and retention approaches.

Once finalized, community partners distributed recruitment materials.  Carolyn and Abbey amplified these efforts at community events, including a Juneteenth celebration, NAACP facemask distribution events, and more.  The events allowed the grantees to promote the PA profession and the significant role SPs have in PA education.

Following COVID safety protocols, SP training was ongoing and individualized, often leveraging informational and coaching phone calls between faculty and recruits to overcome barriers such as unreliable Internet access.

In August, eight new SPs,  including BIPOC participants, LGBTQ+ and non-binary/third gendered individuals, individuals with no or low-income, and individuals with varying health literacy levels, participated in the PA program’s summative didactic phase OSCE in-person with PPE.

“The experience widened our definition of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as it unexpectedly resulted in the recruitment and utilization of other minoritized and socially disadvantaged community members,” shared Carolyn.

  • Participating SPs shared their reflections via a survey, describing the experience as a valuable and positive one:
    • “Being a model patient gives me an opportunity to help student PAs to develop important skills they will need and which will benefit their patients later on.”
    • “Helping to form the next generation of healthcare providers and to provide them with experience in relating to non-binary and trans individuals was amazing.”
    • “I feel that I am helping make a difference in the future of healthcare-and that is important to me.”
    • “Seeing how each student provider brings their own nuanced approaches to treating the same patient gave me a different perspective on medical providers and their development.”
    • “It was great to be a part of and helpful to the learning process. I appreciated the positivity of the students and proctors.”

    Five additional BIPOC individuals were identified as future SPs, and the project is expected to continue.  As additional data is collected, the grantees hope to share their findings and experience with PAs in Minnesota as well as the PA education community.

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

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