Expert Insights from Program Leaders
November 29, 2021
Episode 22: UT Southwestern School of Health Professions - Dr. Bradley-Guidry

We speak with Dr. Bradley-Guidry about her path from nursing to PA and about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Dr. Carolyn Bradley-Guidry is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Affairs for the UT Southwestern School of Health Professions and she is a national leader on diversity as well. We speak about her path to becoming a PA via nursing, her path to education, and the challenges of degree creep for the profession as it relates to diversity.

The purpose of this podcast is to provide news and information on the PA profession and is for informational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the University of Arizona.


Dr. Bradley-Guidry is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Affairs for the School of Health Professions at the UT Southwestern Medical Center and Associate Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies. As an inductee into UT Southwestern Academy of Teachers, she holds the title of Distinguished Teaching Professor. Her education includes a bachelor’s in nursing, a bachelor’s and master’s in Physician Assistant studies, and a Doctor of Public Health degree. Dr. Bradley-Guidry was privileged to be selected as a National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Scholars. Her research focuses on health professions workforce diversity and health equity. Dr. Bradley-Guidry has built a portfolio of service and citizenship in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She directs strategic initiatives to ensure students, faculty, and staff are learning and working in a climate of inclusive excellence. One of Dr. Bradley Bradley-Guidry’s many contributions to the PA department was the co-development of the programs’ vision statement “to become a destination PA Program for economically and environmentally disadvantaged faculty, staff, and students while achieving and maintaining excellent outcome measures.” Her success contributed to program receiving the national Diversity Through Excellence Award from the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). Dr. Bradley-Guidry clinical interest is in the field of cardiovascular disease. She has spent her professional career providing healthcare in underserved communities and supporting disadvantaged populations. She is the Project Director of a Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students grant, funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration.



Unknown Speaker  0:08  
Welcome to this episode of the PA path podcast. I'm your host, Kevin Lohenry. We are glad you could join us as we seek to better understand the PA profession.

Unknown Speaker  0:24  
We're not first on the block here. So we're the followers. We're not the leaders. We're not being proactive. We're being reactive.

Unknown Speaker  0:32  
Well, hello and thank you for joining us today. Welcome to our 22nd episode and season one for the PA path podcast. I'm your host, Kevin Lohenry. And today we speak with Dr. Carolyn Bradley Guidry about UT Southwestern University, about the doctoral degree for the PA profession, and about diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Bradley Guidry is the Assistant Dean for diversity, inclusion and equity affairs for the School of Health Professions at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, and she is an associate professor in the Department of PA studies. She is a national and regional leader in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and has vast experiences as a nurse, a PA, and an educator that contributes to her perspective in both healthcare and higher education. As always, you may learn more about our guest and their institution, at our PA path website, under the blog section and show notes, we also include a transcript of our discussion for those who prefer to read. Well, Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us today. I have been looking forward to this conversation for a while since you and I committed to do this. And I think our audience is going to be very excited to hear your path to becoming a PA. And I hope that through the conversation, we'll also chat a little bit about your path to becoming a national leader with diversity, equity and inclusion. But let's start with your path to becoming a PA How did you decide to become a PA?

Unknown Speaker  1:52  
Kevin, I started out as a registered nurse and I was working side by side with an amazing physician. And he and I worked in the clinic together. He was a nephrologist. And he was an educator in medical school. And he actually trained me to take a medical history and do a physical exam the exact same way he trained his residents. And after work with him for several years, he was like Carolyn, you really need to go to medical school. And I was like, No, I don't want to be a physician, I don't want the life that you have. I want a little bit more personal life with my family. But I also want to have the privilege and opportunity to care for patients at a higher level than nursing. And actually had an opportunity to meet a couple of TAS by working with him and decided that I wanted to apply to PA school. And that was my path. But as an undergraduate student, I knew nothing about the profession, but it was being in healthcare where I got the exposure to the profession and not to stop and I decided to take that path.

Unknown Speaker  2:55  
So as a nurse did you have the opportunity to work with Bas. As

Unknown Speaker  2:59  
a nurse, I worked with TPAs and had a good relationship with both of them and was really inquisitive about what it was that they were doing. And as I continue to work with them along with the physician that I was working with, I had an opportunity to actually partner with them on a couple of special projects with I was doing some research with a provider at the time. And I just saw the broad range and scope of practice that they were able to do. And I thought that this is something that I could really learn how to do and be good at it.

Unknown Speaker  3:33  
So were you practicing as a nurse in Texas?

Unknown Speaker  3:37  
Yes, I have always worked in underserved communities. So I was actually working at our medical centers associated with our county hospital. And I was when I was in nursing, I worked for our county hospital, and then transferred over still taking care of the same patient population, but actually in a different role from direct patient care to a research role when I was working with the physician that I made reference to previously, but as a nurse, I've always worked with underserved populations has been a passion of mine.

Unknown Speaker  4:15  
And this is gonna sound like I'm totally, totally trying to term you. But honestly, I'm sure as an educator, you've had the same experience. The nurses that have been in our schools that I've been part of just offers such a great depth of experience before they come to PA school. I've never had anything but an outstanding experience with former nurses who become pa so I hope I hope there are nurses listening who say, that's great. We should do this. We because we need more nurses in the PA profession.

Unknown Speaker  4:44  
I completely agree.

Unknown Speaker  4:46  
I thought you might. So okay, so you had you have a bachelor's degree in nursing. And then you got a bachelor's degree in PA and also a master's degree in PA is that right? That is correct. So I'm gonna make an assumption that you became a PA at a time when bachelor's was kind of the norm.

Unknown Speaker  5:06  
Right, it was the norm, it was that a master's degree at the time. And after, like I said, I was a nurse for 10 years and then obtained my second bachelor's degree as a PA. But knew as a PA, I kind of felt like I wanted to go the education route. Because in my PA class, in my nursing class, I was only one of three minorities. That was, that was the same. In my PA class, I was only there was only three African Americans in my PA class. And I just felt like that. This is a profession that more minorities should know about. And having always worked in underserved communities, and in my community service work have always given back to communities and mentor young people, I just had the bug that I wanted to eventually get in education. So I knew I was going to have to have a master's degree to do that. And so that was really my driving motivation for getting my master's degree so that I can one day go into education. And with a focus on trying to encourage other individuals that look like me, educate them about the field and try to get them to pursue a career as a physician assistant.

Unknown Speaker  6:22  
And as you think back to not only the time that you experienced this for your, for your own journey, but also the number of students that you've probably counseled over the years to try to encourage them to think about the PA profession. What do you think are the main barriers to students from minority communities when they look at our profession, and they kind of maybe discounted for something else?

Unknown Speaker  6:44  
I think it's a lack of representation. Number one. And I also think there's a lack of knowledge. But once they are aware of the profession, I think there's a lack of representation. And I said this at a PA conference, once, students can't be what they can't, what they don't see. And when they don't see themselves in a certain profession or a certain career, they don't see themselves being able to align with that particular profession. You see, minority representation in education, you see it in on a police force, you see it in firefighters, you see it in various different other professions, but you don't necessarily see it when it comes to physician assistants. I mean, our profession is over 86% White. So when you look at that other 14%, that is broken down between African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American Indian, that that consumes that other 14%. And so when you disperse that broadly, across the region and across US Census divisions, the likelihood that there is going to be an African American PA, in every community is extremely, extremely small. So students at the undergraduate level don't have the exposure. And so they don't see themselves in these particular roles. So representation is x is absolutely critical, in my opinion.

Unknown Speaker  8:14  
So we're kind of in this wicked catch 22. We don't have enough representation in the profession, in education, on admissions committees, etc. And so we can't get more because we don't have people representing those communities. And yet, we have to kind of break over that barrier by trying to get a larger number of underrepresented minority students into the profession, so that that problem go away.

Unknown Speaker  8:41  
Absolutely. If we don't have more students, we can't have more faculty. And we're not going to have more individuals in the workplace. So it has to start with our admissions committees admissions committees, really and truly is the pathway to diversifying our profession. And for our missions committees, they have to be intentional about their efforts. And they cannot expect the students to show up at their front door. They cannot expect for students to just see their website and knock on the door to get in. They have to be intentional in their efforts to go out into diverse communities, to educate students about the profession, and then be able to assist students in navigating the process. As far as having competitive applications. You just can't show up at a an undergraduate recruitment fair and say this is our program without actually creating a pathway of you need to have some volunteer hours you need to have strong reference letters and just being able to paint the picture of what it takes to get into the program is a whole different step that takes intentionality.

Unknown Speaker  9:58  
So when you look at a program in Think about it through the lens of that problem that we're having in terms of really having representation from all communities having not only diversity, but having equity, having inclusion, what does an authentic program look like to you.

Unknown Speaker  10:16  
And authentic program to me looks like representation from diverse backgrounds, gender representation, representation across sexuality, representation across generations, you're going to have some younger faculty, you're going to have some more seasoned faculty. And then you have individuals that actually do not mind going into communities and do not mind they actually thrive on reaching out and having a diverse classroom seated within each and every one of their cohorts.

Unknown Speaker  10:59  
And so that that involves not only the admissions process, but also checking your implicit bias. It involves the way you market your program, the way your hiring, retention is related to your faculty and staff. It's really, it's everything, right?

Unknown Speaker  11:14  
It's everything. And it doesn't just stop, it does not start with the admissions committee. Because programs that bring in diverse candidates. With that having a established culture will only increase attrition rates, so that it's holistic from the way that we bring students in and the environment that we create for them to drive in, we don't want our students to just come in and then have to survive in our programs we want our students to come in, and to thrive in our program. So that means that there needs to be an inclusive culture. That means that the curriculum needs to reflect inclusion. That means the our learning objectives, how we teach our students need to reflect inclusion, we need to be creating an atmosphere so that all students within the classroom, regardless of the race, and ethnicity can be their authentic selves within the classroom. And so that really, truly takes intentional efforts from the leadership of the program, to have training sessions for their faculty so that their faculty can embrace one another, and then have the resources to embrace the students. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  12:35  
I was reminded by many of our students this year, we had a meeting with some of our students related to their experience thus far, particularly with COVID. We're trying to make sure that everybody is feeling safe and heard. And and after we got through the COVID, part of that conversation, they felt the courage this to call me on the program's challenges, you know that it's always nice to as a director to hear how happy everybody is. But in this instance, they were happy about many things, but they felt comfortable enough to share a significant concern. And this was from a multicultural group. The images that we use in teaching and conveying information need to reflect all of the communities that we're talking about. Because if people don't see themselves in the images, then they feel excluded. And it's not an inclusive environment. And the fact is, we have a global healthcare arena to care for patients from all walks of life, from all over the world these days. But if the images only reflect white patients, we're missing out on an opportunity to prepare our students to be successful.

Unknown Speaker  13:42  
Correct. I completely agree with that. I mean, we need to include images, we should be talking about social determinants of health, it should be embedded across our curriculum, so that we can make sure that we are understanding the lives that our patients live, so that we can train our students to be able to identify risk factors for social determinants of health, and refer them to the appropriate resources as patients when they're caring for those patients. In that way, we pa profession can really truly be a catalyst for addressing social determinants of health. But it all circles back to that inclusive climate. And having our students comfortable learning about these things, we can't expect to train graduates and then once they graduate and are certified, they're able to do this. We have to give our students the skill set. And that's all part of the diversity, equity inclusion. That should be a baseline part of all of our programs, kind of threaded through everything right it through everything from on the didactic side as well as on the clinical side. Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  14:56  
Well, let's talk a little bit more about your current age. because you have really taken off in the educational realm, you are a distinguished teacher for UT Southwestern, you've received many awards. You were appointed as the Assistant Dean for diversity, inclusion and equity affairs. And so you really not only been a PA educator, but you've found a niche to really grow your passion for this work? And can you help us understand how that started and how you ended up where you're at today?

Unknown Speaker  15:26  
Well, I guess it really started because I was just passionate about making a difference in the community that I live in, I was passionate about making a difference in the individuals around me as a young individual as a nurse. And I've just never left that passion that that has been my driving force. You know, people talk about grit in having grit to be successful. And coming from a background where my parents have high school education, it was not easy for me to even get my nursing degree. And I got that degree, with the emphasis and the importance of trying to make a difference. And communities that was less off and less fortunate. And that has been my drive for diversity, equity inclusion, trying to make a difference in students lives that are just like me, who may come from backgrounds who parents didn't go to school, how do we create an afforded opportunity for these individuals? How do we help these individuals, and that has been my driving force. And I've just taken that passion, and from my own individual passion, and move that into education, and move that into the classroom. And then it's just, I've just evolved and created scholarly work around this particular area. And it has really been my it hadn't changed. It's been my baseline drive to create equity, and inclusion for all individuals, not to leave anyone out. I have great people from all different races, all different religions in my, in my inner circle that I'm really close to. And I've really thrive on sharing information and trying to open their eyes, to help them understand the importance of equity. As a society as a country, we thrive when we work together. And when we can collaborate together, we're better off when we can work together. And so I've just, I've taken that passion into the PA program, the Dean recognized it, I actually reached over to share some ideas that we had incorporated in PA program with other programs within the School of Health Professions. I had a conversation with our Dean about it. And it's just, you know, he saw the changes that occurred in PA program and asked me if I could help make some of those same changes in the school as a whole.

Unknown Speaker  18:01  
And so much of success in life is identifying mentors. And I wonder given given your parents history, you know, you didn't have a a parental role model to get to college, you, I'm sure had parents that were very adamant about you going to college, but how did you as a student in high school, navigate to college for nursing? And then you know, so on and so forth? How do you identify mentors? How do you build trust with them? What's your kind of secret sauce?

Unknown Speaker  18:30  
So Kevin, let me start by talking about parents who didn't have college education, and how I ended up in college. I, of course, my parents wanted me to go to college. But I started off at the community college level, not having the resources and not knowing how to navigate at the collegiate level. So when I graduated high school, I went to community college first and after having 30 hours of community college and doing well at the community college level. Being on the Dean's list at community college level, I then transferred into a four year university. And I did this I transferred into a four year university, got to the university had four classes. At midterm I was failing off, I was failing three of the four classes. I was working hard, had a lot of grit, had a lot of drive, did not have the appropriate strategy. I was reading all of the chapters in the book, I was highlighting every word. I was rewriting all of my notes. And I thought that that was going to help me to be successful, but a midterm. I was feeling everything except for one course. And I could not figure out what was going on. I'm like I'm reading I'm taking notes what's happening. And I ended up being determined to do so my father, you know, back then, this was in the mid 80s Your parents got your grades before you did. There was no FERPA You had no control over your coursework, right? Yeah. So my dad called me up and was like, Okay, what's going on? We can't afford for you to be in college. And if you're not going to do well, you need to come back home and go to community college because he was doing well at the community college level. And I was like, No, that's not what I want to do. So I ended up seeking out resources from the Student Resource Center, to develop strategies and end up meeting with the individual once a week taught me how to take notes taught me how to analyze test questions, taught me how to actually answered the question that was being asked for essay questions, and how to break down a steam in a multiple choice question and identify those distractors. And once I learned those strategies, Kevin, I soared. I graduated that semester, I said, I was failing all courses and midterm except for one, that semester, ended up passing everything and ended up having one D. And that D reminds me to never do this again. And I shared it with all of the students that I mentor, I have one D, and that D reminds me never do this, again, seek help early, if you're not doing well. And I ended up finishing college in three years instead of four. Once I figured it out, I turned it on Kevin and I just let it evolve. And so my message to young students and I mentor to so many young students is sometimes you don't know what you don't know. But when you figure out that you're not on the right path, there's nothing wrong with getting help and getting the resources that you need to be successful. And I share with undergraduate students all the time, you pay tuition and fees, those fees have four support services that oftentimes students don't seek out. Because either they're embarrassed to, or they're ashamed of doing it, or they don't want to admit that they need help. utilize the resources that you need to help get you to be successful. Because you it's not just grit, you can work hard, because I was working really hard. But I was not I still was successful. So you have to have that passion, I had that passion to say you have to figure out what it is you need to do. So I applied that grit to my passion, and I was able to be successful with the appropriate resources.

Unknown Speaker  22:30  
It's like quicksand. The harder you work the the deeper you fall. So sometimes the only way to get out of it is to get somebody to to give you a hand.

Unknown Speaker  22:39  
And so that goes to the mentor piece. The second part of your question, once I got to idea well in nursing, and once I got in PA school, there was an assistant dean that was an African American female. She looked like me, Kevin, the first day of school in the PA program, I was amazed to see someone that looked like me. We are still friends to this very day. And that was 1996. And she is still one of my mentors. Right now. I went to her. I was like, how did you get here? What did you do? It just started asking questions, right. And to see someone at a higher education level that look like me for the first time was just I was I was drawn to her and but I have a lot of I have a lot of mentors. But she was my first and she is she and I are still really close friends to this very day. And I go back to the I just can't put enough emphasis on representation. It's really important that I have male mentors, I have had white mentors. So all of my mentors do not look like me. But to have someone to see someone that looked like you was a driving force for me if she can do this. I can too.

Unknown Speaker  24:01  
So there's there's a little bit of a safety component to that. Oh, absolutely. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  24:05  
there's a safety component. And in addition to a safety component there is wow. It gives you somebody to not only seek out as a mentor, but it's a reassurance that all academic leaders does does not have to be white male or white females. There's a real true reality check point to that.

Unknown Speaker  24:30  
Yeah. Yeah. So tell me that we all struggle with imposter syndrome. But I think it's the literature is very clear that students from underrepresented communities struggle with it even more because of this exact issue, right? There aren't enough role models that have reached these, quote unquote Pinnacle positions to show that anything is possible. So do you do you find when you're working with mentors who look like you, that you can let your guard down and be more authentic as compared to maybe mentors who Don't come from your community.

Unknown Speaker  25:04  
As a professional, as a student, I will say yes, that was true. Okay. But as a as a professional as a seasoned professional, that is not as, as so much of an issue for me anymore. Because I, my previous program director was a white male. And so I have two relationships with him. I was a student in his class he taught me. So and then our was, he was my supervisor, as a faculty member. And so as a student, I would say, I did not see him as someone that I can relate to as a mentor, because I had him on his hierarchy as a faculty member. Sure, as a program director and chair. So yes, that was absolutely true. I didn't, I didn't think that I could ever be able to relate to him as a faculty member. He was one of the most amazing mentors I've ever had. He was easy to communicate with. But you as key as students, you have this hierarchy that you don't think you can actually cross, right. So being able to see someone of color helps lower that thresholds and, and close the gap on those feelings. But as a faculty member, I was I was able to relate to him. And, you know, he would invite me into his office and say, Tell me what your goals are. Tell me where you want to be. Tell me what you want to do. And I want to help you get there.

Unknown Speaker  26:38  
Yeah, yeah, that's great that we're talking about gene Jones.

Unknown Speaker  26:41  
We're talking about gene Jones for sure. We're talking about Professor Emeritus Dr. Eugene, special guy, amazing pioneer, I owe so much to my professional career to Dr. Jones. He was a phenomenal faculty member as a student, but Dr. Jones got it as a student, I saw him create that inclusive climate for students. As a student, I feel safe in his classroom. As a student, I feel safe learning from him. And he was absolutely phenomenal. And then I also want to mention Michael Statler. Michael style is the current president of the physician assistant Education Association, she was one of my faculty members as well, and also did a phenomenal job creating that safe space for students to learning. And those two individuals really truly inspired me to want to be a PHA. You know, the my leadership in the PA profession actually started on a mentorship of Dr. Jones. Without his mentorship, I don't think I would have been where I am today. He saw something in me and cultivated that. And, you know, he understood diversity, equity and inclusion. And when he hired me, he said, as a white male, I want you to help me change the trajectory of this school. He said, I know how important it is for us to have a diverse school. And I remember Dr. Jones having this conversation with me, he said, I don't think people think I'm serious, because I'm a white male. I want you to partner with me, to help UT Southwestern become the place where our students feel like that. They're welcome. And so I was like, alright, you have the right person, let's make this happen. And we partner together. And I wrote the vision for our PA program, which we never had a vision. And before he executed the program when he said, You know, I think we need a vision statement of what we want this program to look like or what we want this program to do. And so he and I collaborated and writing our vision statement. And he's just done so much for the profession as a whole. But I really feel like I owe so much to him for my professional career in leadership within a PA profession.

Unknown Speaker  29:05  
Let's talk about UT Southwestern Medical Center and the PA school and kind of what's the school about how do applicants get a chance to understand more about how to be successful getting into your school?

Unknown Speaker  29:15  
Okay, so by UT Southwestern, how does candidates find out about our school, our website is informative. We have information sessions, both there virtually right now, but once we come out of COVID, we'll be doing those in person again. So students can actually come on campus and meet with our Director of Admissions and find out firsthand about our program. In my role as Assistant Dean for diversity, inclusion, equity affairs, I can do one on one meetings with candidates to find out more details about our school, but our program is mission minded. I mean, the mission of our program is primary care. And we understand that not every candidate is going to work in primary care or serve underserved communities, and that's okay, we don't mandate that. But we do have a primary care focus for our program. And we add didactic sessions. Our didactic curriculum is focused on primary care, we have a lot of emphasis on social determinants of health. In our clinical rotations, our students have a eight week primary care preceptorship. In addition to the required clinical rotations, they actually spend eight weeks doing primary care at the end of their clinical year. And in a primary care preceptorship. Our students are trying to do a community needs assessment, to identify resources within the community that are both positive and identify resources that are missing within a community. And we think that this is really important to train providers to actually understand the assets, what's present in the community that you're serving and what's not. So that you can be able to make the appropriate referrals and identify the appropriate resources for your patients to be compliant and to improve health outcomes of individuals in the communities in which they're going to be practicing.

Unknown Speaker  31:18  
I could not agree more I think the the reality is we make these assumptions about our students that they they understand these concepts of like food deserts and lack of green space and communities and these public health detriments to communities that are not afforded opportunities, like some of the more affluent communities are or don't have the resources to advocate against the factory being built in their community, instead of in a different part of the area. And so what's always amazing to me is to watch these students go out, they do historically, what they've done is a video, you know, like a, they put together a little short movie document Docu series about certain communities in the Los Angeles County area. And and they identify those gaps, and they just come back, so empowered to understand that telling somebody they need to eat better, doesn't work in certain communities, when they don't have transportation. And they and they don't have a grocery store in a walking distance of their home that provides any healthy options. And when they walk in the store, and the first thing they see are all these juices that are not good for us that are 50 cents a bottle, and then to get something healthy. It's $5 a bottle, right? So I'm excited to hear you say that that's great.

Unknown Speaker  32:33  
Yeah, and I primary care preceptorship, the students have eight weeks there. And in those eight weeks, they have to do a photo voice. They have to go into the community and take pictures of grocery stores. And they have to actually identify what schools what educational resources are in that community. What parks and recreations or facilities are in their community. So that when they're making recommendations to eat and to exercise, they have to identify what community support resources are in their community, for senior recreation centers, or for veterans, or for LGBTQ populations, what resources are in their community, so that it helps them to be able to know I need a social worker. On my right hand, I need to know how I could get food vouchers for my patients. If I need to contact a social worker to get transportation vouchers for them to get to and from the clinic. It just allows them to have a better understanding of the population that they're caring for. And that really enhances the patient provider relationship when your patient can come in and you can communicate with your patients about the resources and the environment that they live in. And so it is just I've seen their reflective essays. And this really changed the perspective of students when they completed this primary care preceptorship and participated in that community's assessment.

Unknown Speaker  34:04  
It reminds me that indigenous proverb that you need to walk a mile in my moccasins to understand my journey. Absolutely. Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about the future of the profession. A couple podcasts ago, we're talking to Tony Miller about the doctorate and I did get some feedback from our community and I and it was really, really welcome feedback about making assumptions. You know, as a white male, I come from a place of privilege and you know, I'm always as a director looking for that next thing that I should be preparing the program for. And clearly the doctorate is out there it's it's a conversation right now it's a postgraduate doctorate with a roughly what eight schools in the country, but there was a push a couple years ago with PA to make the doctor accessible to accreditation for a entry level degree and it was shut down. The the big concern when we moved from a bachelor's to a master's was going to impact diversity in a negative fashion. And that's been an argument that many have articulated, including myself at the national meeting a couple years ago, about going to the doctorate. But the observation I made on that podcast was related to other professional degrees that have a doctorate in watching. Again, this is not a scientific study, I'm just watching these ends of one on Twitter, when they get accepted to a psychology degree or medical school, or dentistry or law, or a Ph. D. program, the kind of, of excitement in the community and in the families for these underrepresented minority students. It seems really palpable online on social media. And I've often wondered if the lack of a doctorate was hurting us. Just, you know, just out of curiosity, and also, does the title hurt us? Is there this concept of physician assistant, does that hurt us? And obviously, we know the House of Delegates has moved to change the name to associate. But I'd love your perspective from your background. And I know you've done research in these areas for your doctorate. And what's your take on the pros and cons of a doctorate?

Unknown Speaker  36:08  
Well, I think that, as you stated that you've mentioned in the past that you think a doctoral degree may in fact, impact diversity. I actually do think that each level that each time we raise the bar, we have to actually think about what are the unintentional consequences of raising the bar. If we're sitting here now with approximately 14% of Varsity, for our profession, and we have, roughly, if you look at NCCPA, there's about 116 116,000 certified IPAs, and we're looking at only 14% of those or have diverse backgrounds collectively, holistically of all diversity at a master's level, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict that if we if we're not educating students at a master's level, from diverse backgrounds. And there's a financial burden that of getting an undergraduate degree to come into graduate school without a master's scuffle. If we're not going to offer finances to support this, if we're not going to create resources that are available to assist these students, how in the world, are we going to narrow that gap and achieve diversity? Move into a doctoral degree, that gap is only going to wide? And when when we talk about representation? How many of those 14% Currently, individuals of color have a doctorate degree? I would, I would be interested in knowing that. And when you look at representation and being able to parallel, we are only going to see, again, a wider gap that don't have a doctor degree right now. If you asked if I will be interested to know how many of the 14% certified PhDs are currently educated with a doctorate degree.

Unknown Speaker  38:30  
There aren't many, many years a few years ago, wow, this is 2010. There are about 25 PhDs in education that had a doctorate. I suspect that many of those were of color, probably less than five. Yeah. Right. But but the doctor has become much more accessible in terms of the dmsc the DHSC. You know, back then we were talking about the EDD in the PhD. So and my guess is that that number has multiplied quite a bit. But I think I think what I hear you saying is we need more data.

Unknown Speaker  39:05  
Well, I mean, I'm not opposed to having an optional doctorate degree. I'm opposed to having it as an entry level. Sure. So just like I got a bachelor's degree because it was a bachelor's degree at the time, and I chose to go and get a master's degree and then I chose to pursue and get adopted to Korea. Honestly, if they got entry level should remain at a master's degree. Individuals who choose to get a doctor degree, then it's their choice they should be allowed to do so. When you look at long parity in funding PA school. Our PA students don't have the same leverage of getting loans to even find education as some of these other professions. True. So when our profession looks at doing what other professions do, other professions have access to additional funds that the PA profession does not we're actually advocating trying to get loan parity or funding parity for our students, that's something that all I think aapa. And all of us, as peer educators should be advocating for, let's create resources for our students to be able to access loans and get money to get educated, even at a master's level, there is a gap there that we have, that we're not addressing as a profession. So you have a funding gap. And then you want to raise the bar for entry level, why to compete with our colleagues? Yeah, we we have a niche, we could be going, I'm gonna go back into primary care and underserved communities, we can be a catalyst for addressing these particular populations in need. And then said, going back to our baseline as to why we became a profession as a whole, and we can be filling those gaps, because other professionals aren't filling those gaps. We can create our own niche and fill that gap, and be known as the healthcare professionals that care about Underserved Communities That Care about primary care, that are making a difference across the country in these populations. But instead, we're chasing, we're not first on the block here. So we're the followers. We're not the leaders. We're not being proactive. We're being reactive. Other people have a doctor degree, so let's get a doctor degree. But what's the adverse outcomes have us chasing these other professions in trying to be like everybody else, I have no concerns at all about a postgraduate doctoral degree being an option for individuals, I actually support it as an option, not just against it at an entry level. For example, my daughter Corinthia, Gigi, is a PA. She's been a practicing pa since 2016. And she's currently completing her doctorate degree at at still University. And so again, that's by choice is not mandated for her. She wants to extend her her career. And I completely support that. And I think that should be the way that our PA program goes.

Unknown Speaker  42:16  
And what was her motivation to seek an advanced degree like that.

Unknown Speaker  42:20  
She wanted to continue to move up in leadership within her profession. at the VA hospital, the VA hospital in Dallas, has a lot of nurse practitioners and leadership. And so she wanted to continue on a leadership track. So she chose to pursue a doctorate degree, which is the argument that so many of the other PhDs have heard, state that in their clinical practice, they want to continue along their trajectory in continuing along their professional career. So this will advance her career. And she chose one option to do so.

Unknown Speaker  42:57  
Yeah, I think that's great. That's I've often looked at how nursing has done such an incredible job of, of recruiting people with diverse pathways. People that know they want to go into research know they want to go into leadership know they want to go into the government business know, they want to work in the industry, and those postgraduate degrees, and we currently starting to see Krepo PA schools give those kinds of opportunities. I'm just I agree I'm not in favor of a clinical doctorate, but I'm definitely in favor of that. I bet the title Physician Assistant, do you think that has been an impediment to our diversity?

Unknown Speaker  43:35  
I don't think that title is an impediment to diversity. I think, you know, when you're in practice, you still gonna refer to yourself as a PA. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  43:45  
So the real, the real impediment to diversity continues to be systemic racism and implicit bias. Opportunities.

Unknown Speaker  43:54  
Yeah, I think the real impediment to diversity is AI admissions committees. I think the real impediment to diversity is our program. You look at programs missions, you look at the admissions committees, you look at the culture within our programs, we have to change internally. We can't put this off on anybody else. PDAs are the ones that are emitting students into our program, PhDs are the ones that are educating and graduating and it falls back on us. Don't follow anybody else. It falls back. We have the responsibility. We have full responsibility of the demographics of what our profession looks like.

Unknown Speaker  44:41  
Well, thank you so much for your time today and congratulations on what has been just a stellar career so far. And just always been so impressed by UT Southwestern and the work that you all are doing down there in Dallas and wish you and your colleagues the very best in the future.

Unknown Speaker  44:56  
Thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker  45:04  
We want to thank our guest Dr. Carolyn Bradley good referred her time and insights on the PA profession. It's been an honor to speak with her as we learned about some of the challenging issues for our country and profession through the lived experiences of a leader in diversity equity inclusion. Tune in next week as we speak with Dr. Bill Cole. Dr. Cole has been a physician assistant for more than 40 years, and he is a professor emeritus of PA studies at Quinnipiac University. He's also been a national leader for the APA NCCPA, PA and the PA History Society to name a few. He is also the 2020 recipient of the Paa Lifetime Achievement Award, and a good friend of both Stephanie Nyan from our board service together, we speak with Dr. Cole hap about the Quinnipiac University PA program and about the challenges facing our profession from his vast experiences in leadership. Until next time, we wish you success with whatever path you are walking in life. And thank you for joining us. The purpose of this podcast is to provide news and information on the PA profession and is for informational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the University of Southern California.


Carolyn Bradley-Guidry, Profile Photo

Carolyn Bradley-Guidry,

Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Affairs; Associate Professor

Dr. Bradley-Guidry is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Affairs for the School of Health Professions at the UT Southwestern Medical Center and Associate Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies. As an inductee into UT Southwestern Academy of Teachers, she holds the title of Distinguished Teaching Professor. Her education includes a bachelor’s in nursing, a bachelor’s and master’s in Physician Assistant studies, and a Doctor of Public Health degree. Dr. Bradley-Guidry was privileged to be selected as a National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Scholars. Her research focuses on health professions workforce diversity and health equity. Dr. Bradley-Guidry has built a portfolio of service and citizenship in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She directs strategic initiatives to ensure students, faculty, and staff are learning and working in a climate of inclusive excellence. One of Dr. Bradley Bradley-Guidry’s many contributions to the PA department was the co-development of the programs’ vision statement “to become a destination PA Program for economically and environmentally disadvantaged faculty, staff, and students while achieving and maintaining excellent outcome measures.” Her success contributed to program receiving the national Diversity Through Excellence Award from the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). Dr. Bradley-Guidry clinical interest is in the field of cardiovascular disease. She has spent her professional career providing healthcare in underserved communities and supporting disadvantaged populations. She is the Project Director of a Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students grant, funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration.