Dr. Tom Colletti, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to increase awareness of the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the physician assistant (PA) profession, particularly among Black PAs, and to analyze its contribution to racial and ethnic minority (REM) healthcare disparities.
Method: A PubMed literature search was conducted with search terms racism, race and ethnicity, diversity, physician assistant (PA), and healthcare disparities. Thirty-five pertinent articles were reviewed. A statistical profile review of certified PAs from 2013-2019 was also conducted. Results from both searches served as the basis for this study.
Results: The PA profession has had minimal increases in racial and ethnic diversity since 2013. The etiology of REM healthcare inequities is multifactorial, but evidence suggests the lack of REM providers is a contributing factor.
Conclusion: The PA workforce is a poor representation of the diverse United States patient population. Patient-provider racial and ethnic concordance can improve REM healthcare outcomes and patient experiences. Evidence suggests that increasing the number of REM PAs can reduce healthcare disparities.
Bridges T. Representation Matters: The Lack of Diversity in the PA Profession Contributes to Racial and Ethnic Minority Healthcare Disparities. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science. 2021; 4(1).
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