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Black History Month 2024

After a week of busy events for our PA students, including PA Day on the Hill, where they could advocate for their future profession, we wanted to reflect on how the PA profession got here! As we near the end of Black History Month, we want to remember the Black providers who have helped pave the way for themselves and the PA profession as a whole, and how we owe it to them by continuing breaking down barriers for providers and patients.


Henry Lee Treadwell (Buddy), was a Black man who became one of the first blueprints for the PA profession after his long-time work alongside Dr. Johnson in the 1940s through to the 70s; together they showed a cooperative relationship between physician and provider was possible. black and white photo of buddy treadwell holding a stethoscope to a child's chestNot long after the establishment of the PA program, Joyce Nichols became the first woman and the first Black woman to become a PA in 1970, and even served on the board of AAPA alongside some of her classmates. Continuing this trend of expanding the PA education’s reach, Lovest Alexander, Jr. became a PA and started to branch out for recruitment within Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), who often mistakenly thought that the PA profession was more of a back-up option for people who didn’t make it into medical school than an actual standalone position with a different kind of patient-focus. Karen Bass, first PA sitting in the House of Representatives, and current mayor of LA, helped kickstart Project Access, a program designed to promote the PA profession to students of marginalized communities, doing a lot of similar outreach as Alexander Jr. but for younger students in middle/high school.


So what can you do to help strengthen the PA profession and its reach to more diverse providers, educators, and patients? Do a little more research on the people mentioned, watch the video of Karen Bass discussing the impact of Project Access, check out some books written by Black providers, and continue your own education as a PA with some CE courses provided through AAPA to help bolster DEI in healthcare leadership, or learn more about the struggles that Black women have specifically faced as both patients and providers, and how we can work to reduce those disparities.



Additional Resources:
– Lovest Alexander Jr. Interview:

– Henry Lee Treadwell Biography:

– Joyce Nichols Biography: