Parental Guidance Required: How Parents Could Help Reduce the Shortage of Minority Physician Assistants

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Abstract

Physician assistants (PAs) are essential to the health care system, and there are not nearly enough of them to meet the needs of our ethnically diverse population. Factors contributing to a lack of minorities in PA schools are related to academic performance, commitments outside work/school, and social and economic deprivation. From 2014 to 2016, the Texas Area Health Education Center East worked with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to implement Physician Assistant Learner Support programming. This program, targeting minority high school students, promoted and educated both students and parents about PA careers with the objective of alleviating one of the main barriers to minority higher education—lack of understanding of educational and career opportunities. This study found that parental knowledge about PA application requirements, PA degree requirements, financial aid, and career prospects at the high school level is essential to securing parental support of student selection of PA careers.

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