Project Access Overview

"From the Clinic to the Community........"

If you haven’t heard the buzz yet…you may be missing out on an opportunity to diversify the PA Profession while addressing and eliminating health disparities.  Project Access is designed to inspire and motivate underrepresented minority youths to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant.  The program also addresses the social and economic barriers faced by our minority, K-12 through college.

African Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians make up nearly one quarter of the U.S. population, however, less than 10% of minorities practicing in the medical field are from one of theses underrepresented groups, according to the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).  Increasing the number of minority providers is critical to improving the health care delivery system and a key element in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

In 1987, under the direction of PA Brenda Jasper, Project Access made its debut in high schools and junior colleges geared towards underrepresented students interested in pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant. This event was held annually during the AAPA and APAP (now PAEA) annual conferences; providing presentations to minority students from the inner city, rural communities, and even the Navaho Nation. A lack of designated funding eventually ended a decade of successful outreach by PAs to community youths in our host cities.

In May 2010, AAPA’s Committee on Diversity (COD) in partnership with PAEA’s Committee on Ethnic and Cultural Diversity (CECD) re-launched the Project in Atlanta, Georgia.  Both committees strategically packaged this project for utilization on the national, regional and local levels for implementation.  The Board of Directors of both AAPA and PAEA approved nearly $4000.00 for funding to help with the efforts.  Project Access has since been incorporated into AAPA’s Strategic Plan and the Project has been viewed as a vehicle to increase patient’s access to care by educating those in underrepresented communities with the hope that those individuals will return to those communities to provide care and act as mentors to future generations.

Another vision for the success of Project Access is for constituent organizations to take ownership of the outreach and conduct visits throughout the year within their local communities.  “Conducting Project Access at the National level during the AAPA and PAEA conference is just the start….it is the local PAs, constituent organizations and PA programs that will maintain the Project and determine it’s true longevity and success,” says Harris, Former Chair for AAPA’s Committee on Diversity.

With Healthcare Reform at the tip of everyone’s tongue and with Physician Assistants named as a key factor in helping to address the ongoing healthcare crisis, it is imperative that PAs take an active role in eliminating health disparities while diversifying the PA profession by educating and recruiting underrepresented youths on the opportunities of a career as a Physician Assistant.

Click here to learn about this year's Project Access plans at the AAPA's Annual Conference.