Expert Insights from Program Leaders
October 03, 2022
Season 3: Episode 43 - Morehouse School of Medicine PA Program

In our first episode back from break we speak with Dr. Pangela Dawson about her path to becoming a PA and about the Morehouse School of Medicine PA Program. We also speak about racial justice and leadership approaches to difficult conversations.

In our first episode back from break we speak with Dr. Pangela Dawson about her path to becoming a PA and about the Morehouse School of Medicine PA Program. We also speak about racial justice and leadership approaches to difficult conversations.

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.


Transcripts are provided "as is" from Otter AI. Please forgive the typos that are still a part of artificial intelligence.


Unknown Speaker  0:00  
We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of indigenous peoples. Today Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes. With Tucson being home to the Ogden and yaki. committed to diversity and inclusion the university strives to build sustainable relationships with sovereign Native nations and indigenous communities through education offerings, partnerships and community service.

Unknown Speaker  0:33  
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  0:50  
you know, I think I've always had the mindset even before P education of wanting to get in a position to be able to create policy practices that matter that really afford people of color but people in general opportunities.

Unknown Speaker  1:08  
Well, welcome back to season three for the PA path podcast. Steph and I are so excited to have you join us as we begin to explore additional programs and colleagues over the coming fall semester. We are fortunate to start this season with Morehouse School of Medicine and Dr. Angela Dawson. Dr. Dawson joined them in 2017 as the founding program director, and she also has experience from university Kentucky where she got her PhD in education, Policy Studies and evaluation in higher education. She began her academic career at the University of Kentucky where she served as Director of Clinical Education, overseeing 300 regional, national and international clinical training sites. She's also worked at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine, and served as a clinical coordinator at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr. Dawson, Steph and I will be talking about the program and about diversity, equity and inclusion for the PA profession. And we hope you enjoyed this episode. And hang on for many, many more this fall.

Unknown Speaker  2:13  
Dr. Angela Dawson, thank you very much for being with us. Today. We Kevin and I are very happy to have you on our on our podcast. And it is a delight to we can see you our audience can hear you. We're happy to have you here today from the Morehouse School of Medicine PA program. So why don't you just start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your history and your path to the PA profession and into PA education.

Unknown Speaker  2:39  
Awesome, thank you, I want to say first that I am super excited to have this opportunity, not so much to share about myself. But I will do that. I usually don't like to do that. But I'll do that because you asked. I love the opportunity to talk about the profession, I love the opportunity to see how we can create pathways for young aspiring learners to come and find their way to this profession and live their dream. And then I just love talking about Morehouse School of Medicine. So your question is in particular about me. So why why PA is what I think are heard. And so yeah, many of us have a similar story. You know, when especially in African American culture, we're raised to either think about being a lawyer, a doctor, or being a school teacher, those are kind of the the ways you know, that we are taught to when we are kids, and I don't want to generalize, but many from African American communities know that that's the story. And so that's a bit of mine, where I knew I wanted something in healthcare. And I've told this story before it it really is true. As many times as I've told it, it honestly is true. As a kid, I watched my mother, um, care for one of two uncles that were quadriplegics, and so she cared for him morning, noon and night, we would I would sit in hospitals all day with her, I would go to nursing homes with her and sit all day. And so the more I saw in that profession, and those folks lending care, and I saw my mother, a makeshift nurse, not by title, but indeed, I really just I fell in love with the opportunity to maybe be able to give back in that way. And I know Most times we tell students don't say you just wanted to help people. That's why you want to be a PA, a PA. So it is much different than they are really just lived in in those environments, and just saw my mother give and love so deeply. And so it really just curbed my interest in this way. And so I stumbled upon the profession, you know, only knew about Doctor physician, you know, even MDS if we want to even narrow that down, um, but stumbled in in this direction by a relative who had an interest prior to me and so, I caught my attention and I'm like, no, what is the PA? Actually, after that conversation? I went and started doing my research and I tell students this all the time. We didn't have digital files back then it was actually literally a big binder, and I killed a lot of trees back then where I do As I went and made copies of everything I could think of in the healthcare profession, primarily ot PT, I looked at, obviously went back and looked at medical school MD is, is really an option and then did my research on PA and fell in love with that option, you know, had a young child back then she was probably two or three at that time and already married. So this was the profession that I really believe would afford me a balanced life, if you will, when it comes to family, and then career, although I'll throw this in here, my life is far from balanced right now, education does not necessarily lend itself. But I have a whole new philosophy when we think about work life balance,

Unknown Speaker  5:44  
that is really interesting, because so many clinicians who interview to come into PA education think it's kind of a way for them to kind of get into this phase of easiness, or just a little bit more balanced. But in fact, I think you're right. So, so So tell us about that decision to kind of move into education? And how did you end up becoming a director?

Unknown Speaker  6:07  
Great questions. Thank you. Um, let's see. So education, I don't want to go too far back. But I don't think we have time for that. But I think I was always the student or even the child before school that really just loved playing school, loved going to school, and loved the act or the art of learning. And so you know, you can probably talk to any of my family members or childhood friends, I was the one with the chalk at the chalkboard in our playroom, making someone answer a question. So I've always had that, that love for education. And then just as I said a moment ago, one of the things that usually and maybe I shouldn't generalize, but I know one of the things that my mother in particular instilled in me was education, like that was your bridge, to make sure that you had an opportunity to be successful education is the great equalizer, if you will. And so I ran with that and took it very seriously, really, when I got to PA school really took it very seriously, you know, obviously understanding the weight of the white coat, if you will, and what that would bring to me in this field. So you know, kind of a, again, maybe some roots in my childhood that steered me toward education in particular. Now, when we talk about being an educator in PA studies, and a program director, I will tell you, on that front, I came kicking and screaming, I was actually in the clinic one day, and my other front office called me, you know, call me up and said, You've got to call someone by the name and they said, my program director when I was in PA, school PA schools name, and I'm like, I wonder why she's calling. So I ended up calling her back. And you know, that was kind of when it started, she wants you to come in and see if you're interested in teaching. And I thought it was interesting, I don't know that I was really ready to jump in. Um, but I ended up going on campus and meeting with a department chair at that point in the program director of the PA program at that institution. And I don't want to say they beg and plead but they were really coaxing, like you should come it's a great opportunity, your life will never be the same. And I think at one point in the conversation, and I've told this before, they say, and we'll pay for you to get a PhD. And at that point, it was like, I definitely don't want to go back to school, not interested. But somehow they threw something in the pot that, you know, got my attention. And then you started my career as a lecturer, and instructor for that program, and kind of made my way up at this point, the decision more particularly, or more specifically about being program director, you know, I think I've always had the mindset, even before P education, of wanting to get in a position to be able to create policy practices that matter that really afford people of color, but people in general opportunities, because sometimes, you know, we can work at a certain certain level, but until policy changes, you know, you're really not going to make the impact that you can. And so I saw the director role as one a way to kind of get at this a seat at the table, to maybe make a greater impact for students of color, but all students and then you know, similarly if I think about being a program director, I've always wanted to and this is this was my can repeat my interview and to PA school, I can probably repeat it or give you some some big bullet points. But one of the things I share with my panel of interviewers back then, was, I want to do this because I want to get in a position I want to be able to give back to my community. And that was sincere and so today I'm doing that very thing as the program director of Morehouse School of Medicine. I've done it in other institutions before coming here. My heart my soul is to be able to make those pathways so that others can come behind me and be able to carry the torch. I think they say you're standing on the shoulders of you Those that have come before you. So I want to be some shoulders from for someone to stand on to do something much greater.

Unknown Speaker  10:06  
I think in my studies of leadership, reluctant leaders are often the very best.

Unknown Speaker  10:11  
I've heard that. I've heard that.

Unknown Speaker  10:15  
In our conversation before we started recording. Kevin mentioned that even back when he was president of pa, pa EA was in conversations with Morehouse School of Medicine, to develop a PA program and I my presidency came after Kevin's I was in 2016, I believe. And we were even still having those conversations with Morehouse School of Medicine at that time. And so I know that the history of a PA program at Morehouse School of Medicine has been a long and probably torturous road. So talk to us a little bit about how this program came to be and some of the trials and tribulations that came before you were able to successfully launch this, the ship off the docks?

Unknown Speaker  10:59  
Sure, thank you another great question. I do want to say probably the first organization to reach out when I accepted the job at Morehouse School of Medicine to found this program was pa EA. And that call really took shape in the form of what do you need from us to help you? How can we help make sure that you know your program is successful. And I think I ended up going to the forum that year in Colorado, and actually had a sit down meeting with some of the leaders of PE at that time. So that support even you know, at that, you know, from the institution itself, was there all along. So even better to hear that both of you all played a part in getting us to where we are now as a new program. So yes, you're correct. The institution, Morehouse School of Medicine has really been on task to try to get a program started. As far back as I think you said, 2011. But I'm hearing maybe even a little bit before that. They look down, you know, many avenues, if you will, to be able to see how can we best make sure we've got a program that can survive and be successful. And so that took from what I'm told, I've sit with some of the great historians at Morehouse, even to learn what what did you all do? Like the best way to start is go figure out what they did and what worked and what didn't who have you talked to. And so I took time to do that. And so some of the stories that I've heard from some of the pioneers, I'll throw a shout out to maybe you guys know, Dr. Ginger Floyd. So Dr. Floyd was one of the persons that was really talking to a number of institutions. From the beginning, I even told that they even went to the DOJ to try to think of some partnerships, they went to a number of PA programs in existence, some in Georgia, some I'm told, even, you know, up in the Northeast areas, well, those never came to fruition. And so in walks, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, so I tip my hat to her are one of our greatest supporters on the campus. She is the president and now she came in the door, I'm told, and she was blazing, she wanted a PA program, she had the vision that if we were going to be true to our mission of health equity, we're going to need more players on the field that MDS cannot do that alone. And she knew the power and the utility of the PA profession, and how we can extend that reach into rural areas into urban areas, all the underserved communities that there were folks in those communities that would even consider the PA profession as their career of choice. And so with that vision, you know, we were off and running, she put some some calls out some some support coming from the state to make sure in fact that you know, we could get this program and run our mission where we need it to. And so that in walks me to interview I think the day I they wanted me to go meet her and I wasn't prepared to meet the president, you have to know Dr. Montgomery Rice to appreciate the smile on my face. But I walked in there trembling. But I'll tell you, she has been the one of the greatest supporters on that campus for not just me, not just this problem, but the profession. I think she's already got she I learned this on the fly, already looking at some residency opportunities for the program and how we can grow and stretch. So that's a little bit about the history, you know, and again, and, you know, would be, you know, out of out of order, if I didn't also kind of speak to some of the others. There were a couple of PAs that were already at the institution that were part of those conversations to get the program up and going. That it that being Susan Robinson and Sabrina Jackson bots, I just make sure I give them, you know, the honor that they're due for some of the groundwork that they did, but yeah, so you know, the vision is that we are to carry this mission for two carries, you know, some of the weight of this as a profession alongside the other programs at the institution.

Unknown Speaker  14:55  
So I'm familiar with Morehouse, my previous department chair is As a Morehouse graduate for medical school, and, and it's just such an impressive institution. But I'm going to throw out my my naivete here. When I went there in 2011, my white privilege had me make some assumptions about what Morehouse was all about. Because you know, clearly as one of the HBCUs, it has a strong mission for diversity, equity inclusion, and I just, I had this mindset, I was so wrong, but I had this mindset that that diversity at eight at Morehouse was really about underrepresented minorities in medicine, and nothing else. But what the President taught me on that visit, which was just why is it so mind blowing? I don't understand why it is. But but just for our listeners, actually, they look at diversity of Morehouse. Similarly to us, it's just it's flipped, right? The script is flipped. And if we if we say diversity equals excellence, and equity equals equals excellence, then you have to have diversity in your classroom, too. Absolutely. So can you talk a little bit about Morehouse his mission and how you achieve that mission as a program director?

Unknown Speaker  16:03  
Sure. Thank you. Um, so yeah, let me start with our mission. So our mission, I'll start, let me start with our vision, because our mission statement is much longer than our vision statement, or vision statement that says that we exist pretty much that we want to advance create and advance health equity. And so we have this marvelous picture to kind of depict what equity is, and because obviously, sometimes that can get a little twisted, or folks come up with different definitions. And I wish I could give a visual but I know we're, this is a listening audience and not a viewing audience. But that picture of you can imagine three, it's like a picture of three little boys, if you will, or you can say, their girls, whatever you want to say. And they're look trying to look over this fence at this baseball game. But in fact, you know, the smaller individual can't see over the fence, he has one box, and the individual, the middle size, individual can see just a little bit more. And then the tall one can see the entire field, if you will. And so what we say equity is, is in fact, giving enough of those boxes, each of those individuals to be able to see over that fence and enjoy that ball game, everyone gets to come to the game and enjoy it. And so what we really say that health equity is in fact, giving people what they need when they need it in the amount that they need it. So you know, that picture kind of depicts that the smaller entity, if you will, or individual gets three boxes, maybe the end the middle person gets to, and the person that's you know, already looking over the fence doesn't really necessarily need an additional box. That is what we look at when it comes to equity. And so you feel that down into education, opportunity, health, obviously, economic, so we're thinking equity across the border, you know, across all of those aspects. And so that's our vision, our vision statement is, and I'll repeat it, because we say it all the time, is creating and advancing health equity. And then if you look at our mission statement, it does talk about, you know, we're wanting to diversify the workforce is one of the mainstays in there. And so diversifying, just as you said, is a mix of everything. You know, a lot of times we get kind of caught on that one being raised. But in fact, we do need to look at ethnicity. And we do need to look at religion and geographical differences. And so we aim to do that I believe we are succeeding in that more and more with the PA program in particular, you know, as we're getting off the ground, and folks are finding us and knowing that we're here and knowing our mission, you know, we're looking for folks that get the mission, understand equity, have our service minded individuals that have a heart to do the work in these communities that we want to serve. So it is a service minded individual that we look for our diversity, and I wish I could flash a picture. We have students, you know, obviously we have African American students, we have a number of students coming from Africa, you know that, you know, they're not necessarily American African, born and raised in Africa, but US citizens, we have Indian students, we have Hispanic students, we have white students, we have males, females preferences with sexuality, we, you know, we are really looking to make sure that we can diversify thoughts, and then we can look broadly at how we can serve these communities. And so we're growing in that I think the term obviously, the term across the country, is inclusion to go with diversity. And so I will tell you more house, we've had many a leadership meeting, where we talked about that inclusion, that inclusive piece, we are checking our own selves to make sure that we haven't just stopped at diversity. And we're also considering the inclusive part of that.

Unknown Speaker  19:37  
So when you think about the intersectionality of all the all that melting pot that you run your program, what are your observations about that classroom experience for the students in your program?

Unknown Speaker  19:47  
Sure. So I there's a term and so this creates additional work. It's kind of that hidden curriculum, if you will, that we know all exists. We can have our 28 months but then there's a little bit of something not on paper that's actually happening. So what I try to be intentional about making sure we break the students up because I don't know the name of that book. But I think it was, the story was about the lunchroom, the middle schoolers in the lunchroom that are clumping together based off race. So to try to avoid that we have learning communities that we have, you always I was gonna say implemented, but they've been apart since we've been up and running. And so we try to use those learning communities to put students together based on Yes, their interests. So maybe you have an interest in women. So maybe you have an interest in in public health or public education. So we try to put them together. But that also kind of makes sure that we can blend the groups that we can kind of get away from clumping, if you will, so that all my Hispanic students aren't here and all my white students are Caucasian students, and all my so we try to be intentional about mixing them up so that they can learn about community and other communities. So and actually about creating community and culture at the institution. So we're a bit intentional about that to try to avoid, but you can still kind of see, you know, my favorites always come over. And this is my study partner, but we try to get in there and negate that a little bit by those learning communities.

Unknown Speaker  21:14  
So we want to move to hearing a little bit more about what you're looking for in an applicant and helping potential applicants to Morehouse kind of know, what's your program about what can they expect? If they come to Morehouse? What are you looking for in an applicant to your program?

Unknown Speaker  21:31  
Let me start with maybe the second part of that the middle part, and then I can tease all of the, the criteria together and what we're looking for what's a strong African, but I'll kind of tackle that first that middle question. And you said, you know, what can they expect from our program? So this is where I get to really smell if I was smelling before I'm really gonna, that's gonna be hurting in a minute. But so Morehouse, you know, I know, every all of us, I'm sure you guys know that that little statement or that comment where you say, you've seen one PA program, you've seen one PA program. So yeah, that is obviously true. And so some something that makes us unique, obviously, is our mission. But we've actually tailored our curriculum to make sure that we can live that mission. So that it's not just the students coming in. And yes, we've talked to you about health care disparities, we've talked to you about touch you talk to you about underserved communities, we've talked to you about, you know, prevalence and certain certain disease processes in certain communities. Yes, we do those things. But we've actually made sure that our mission is spread across our entire curriculum. And so that's done through a course called medicine and society. So there's a series of four. And so we really try to use that, yes, there's a little bit of cultural competency in there and interprofessional education in there. But we really try to make sure that we build our community engagement activities as part of that series. So those learning communities that I just mentioned, I'm interested in, you know, if I can say pediatric, or or childhood obesity is peds, then those students are actually doing their service around that topic collectively together. And so what that means is the students get to really bring their interest in to the program, and develop those, those become their capstone projects. And so they're now doing a little bit of research and learning more about that and getting credit for it. And that also means we're building partnerships, you know, throughout the community and growing in that way. So that's one is that, you know, if someone is really looking for that opportunity to serve, you're thinking, social determinants of health, you want to be impactful there. If you're thinking about equity in particular, then, you know, we've actually sliced that throughout our entire curriculum, I also would say that we have really, and I know everybody's kind of kind of on cutting edge, trying to keep things innovative. It's been for us, I don't want to say easy, a little bit easier, but it has been maybe a little bit more organic, because we have you're building from we're building, we're building it and we're not having to go back and redo curriculum. So we've been able to put things in our curriculum, you know, where maybe it took other programs that have been up and running for 3040 years, a little longer. So that including the point of care ultrasound, our students all get assigned their very own sinus stem units, the butterflies, equipment to be able to learn how to do ultrasound. We have cadaver labs, you know, for students to be a part of, we engage our students with the MD students and public health students. So in fact, they're learning side by side. On some occasions, task trainers galore. I know you know, that might seem obvious, but not every school has access to a lot of the medical equipment to make sure that their learning is at a certain level. And then we have great partners on the campus. So when you think about, you know, the public health if you think about our mission, if you think about the MD faculty See the basic science faculty. So all those folks come together to help us kind of create this program and make sure that our students are exposed and have the opportunity to be successful. So there are some benefits to being you know, at a medical school, I will say that we are still inclined and responsible for making sure we continue to educate, you know, our colleagues across the medical school because this is a new profession. Historically, only MD, you know, we think about practitioners. So we still are in the vein of educating. So I'll leave that there. I'll park that there, I'm sure I'll think of something else. And maybe go to your question about the criteria, what are the criteria, so most of the prerequisites, like you would see across any other PA program, your sciences, and then your statistics, your psychology, so we stayed in line with that. But we did really, I guess I should say, what really strengthens applicant is that community service. So what have you been in there is not a requirement, but I encourage folks to think about their service, and be able to demonstrate that they've done that. The other is we do require 500 hours of health care experience. And that was a difficult decision for us. Because again, our when we built this program, when we created or designed it, we wanted to make sure that we minimized as many barriers for students of color as possible. And sometimes getting 1000 or 2000, health care experience hours can be difficult. If you know, I don't have that social network to be able to tap into to say I want to shout or want to come in. So we do not require pa shadowing hours, but we do require the healthcare experience. And we made that difficult decision, we lowered it, you know, looked at what other schools were doing in the state lowered it to that 500, just because we want to make sure that folks come in knowing what they're getting into. And you know, don't have that student the second semester or right before the clinical year, say I don't want to do this anymore. And we probably all have had that once or twice. So we do require the 500 hours, and the GPA is a 3.0. The other thing that we've done, again, trying to minimize barriers for the learners that we want to recruit. So we're not looking for the 4.0. But we welcome those, you do not have to have a 4.0 or 3.8. To get into this program, we're looking at the whole person, and we're looking at our mission and stacking those side by side. But with that said, 3.0 is our minimum GPA. However, for those students that are just under that, and they've gone and done some graduate work, we will look at your graduate work. And if you have a 3.0 and your graduate work a minimum of nine credit hours, we will take that, and then also your last 60 hours. So if your last 66 years of undergrad, or 3.0, we will calculate and use that. So again, intentional to lower those barriers for you know, folks that may not maybe first generation and didn't necessarily have the mentor to guide them through and had a mess up, you know, maybe fraught freshman or sophomore year. So we're really trying to think of those things so that we can, you know, be able to support those students that are coming in with diverse backgrounds.

Unknown Speaker  28:17  
That's fantastic. And you're still a provisional program. Correct. You're my stuff. And I'm a developing program. You're in that kind of trying to get over the finish line. So

Unknown Speaker  28:27  
yes, we have one more site visit. So we are due next year application due in February. And so that being the final one, and we are all believing in point in our faith and speaking it into the atmosphere that it will be we will get that continued accreditation. That'll be a big

Unknown Speaker  28:46  
celebration for all of that work to get started. Absolutely.

Unknown Speaker  28:50  
I can relate to that my program is on a very similar timeline we have it feels like a very important final hurdle declared.

Unknown Speaker  28:59  
Yeah, it does. It does. And they're all important. But I tell my team, you guys, this one is important. If you thought the last one, this one is the one we've got to give it everything. So yeah, absolutely.

Unknown Speaker  29:12  
And before we get into my next question, just just just in terms of your programs, clinical phase, I was just out of Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, actually. And there's such great clinical training centers all over there. So what kind of places are your students able to train at and in Atlanta

Unknown Speaker  29:27  
and beyond?

Unknown Speaker  29:28  
Sure. Thank you. These are great questions, just so the audience knows we didn't practice this the lead but these are great questions. And I guess I say that because I really just really appreciate the opportunity to share. And so our students one of our primary partners is Grady Memorial Hospital. So that is the trauma one that is the main the main thing, they're in the metro area of Atlanta, so they're seeing a little bit of everything. The institution actually has a close partnership with Grady I don't know when you were here. Did you You see Grady

Unknown Speaker  30:01  
again and I, well very familiar to creating it's it's an amazing place. Yes,

Unknown Speaker  30:05  
absolutely. Yep, a perfect fit for our mission. And so we've partnered very closely with them as a PA program very natural because a lot of our residency programs go through there the GME, the departments at Morehouse go through there. And there's a, you know, the faculty are actually have their clinic time there. So a natural fit for us to kind of just go right in there. So our students right now do emergency medicine at Grady, Psych, women's health, in internal medicine, a believer and surgery go there. So you can see we kind of have quite a few, which was really helpful when you think about our initial site visit, if I can go back to accreditation, we had, you know, those partners in place, um, just because of the history of the institution. But we are we're sending all over the metro area, we try to be cognizant to our mission. So really trying to make sure students have exposure to underserved communities, that also meaning rural areas. So we try to partner with AHEC. And then sometimes we're finding them on our own, to be able to make sure that our students get some rural contact. I'll put a plug in here very humbly, and my team will tell you, I'm humble, but humble, humble plug that we were just awarded the HERSA grant that just came out. And so that allows us to extend our reach in the rural area. And so we're looking at implementing a rural track for our learners. So actually, even our admissions will have a rural track. So individuals from rural communities interested in rural health will have a certain track, and then we will actually have didactic training. So rather than wait until the clinical year, we're actually working with them all throughout the didactic year to be able to talk about rural health, but that looks like and so we remember I mentioned the learning communities, there will be a learning community that is rural health, if you will, and then their rotations will automatically be in the rural areas. So we're all over Georgia. But the exciting thing that I get to share in this again, if I go back to Montgomery Rice, Dr. Goodman rice and her her vision, we also now have a new venture that's really taken us beyond the state of Georgia. And so at the MD level, if you will, they've been working with a partnership, a partnership with ch AI, so ch AI is connected to the St. Joseph hospitals across the country. And so that falls under common and I can't think of the name please forgive me. Common.

Unknown Speaker  32:37  
We're also affiliated.

Unknown Speaker  32:39  
Okay, I was gonna say common spirit, but I thought there was another name, it is common spiritual art or initiative is called more in common meaning more house and Commons. Spirit coming together. So this morning common initiative actually is allowing us to send our students where the President where the institution has kind of spread in partnership with common spirits. So that takes us across some state lines, to partner with some of our partners now, or collaborate with seminar partners now through that common spirit opportunity. That's fantastic.

Unknown Speaker  33:14  
Congrats on that, and especially the HERSA. Grant, that's a huge accomplishment that makes a lot of work, right?

Unknown Speaker  33:20  
Yes, yes. Absolutely. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  33:23  
yeah, that'll that'll help a lot. So I would imagine as a program director that's been developing a new program, which has its own level of challenge, and then add on top of that what's been happening in society over the last? I mean, what's been evident in the last few years, it's been happening for a long time, but what has really come come to the foreground of America related to racism in our country, and ahmaud arbery there in Georgia and Breanna Taylor and everything else. How how do you as a program, kind of read the tea leaves? And and, you know, prepare for the future, the PA profession? What are some of the things that you're doing to really equip your students to be ready to make those shifts that are those pivots that we all have to do when we graduate?

Unknown Speaker  34:09  
Sure. And let me first share a story with you, though, maybe better demonstrate or illustrate the passion that our students you had and still have, but specifically, you know, when we were at the height of the protests and some riots and a little bit of everything going on, I quickly pulled the students I quickly I think, actually one of the students let me know that they were really having a tough time. And so after that, quickly assemble it assemble the students here remember, we're still in the throes of COVID COVID COVID, the primary the original and so we were resumed, you know, we were not on site at that point. And so I call it a quick zoom. So we've got all of the squares on the screen. And I mean you out you could, you could feel the tension and the hurt and the discouragement. I mean, just even through the, you know, through the zoom, you could see how weighty it was. They were distraught, they were tearful, they were angry, they were confused,

Unknown Speaker  35:27  
really didn't know what they wanted to do. And you know, I can laugh at it now. But obviously, that that afternoon, it wasn't funny, but they weren't, they wanted to go take I actually just like no most of the world was was the country was like, we want to get out there we want to. And so I really had to pull back or pull them back a little bit and really heart to heart a little bit of a strong monotone. But then also a heart to everybody needs to know, you know, their place on the battlefield. And right now the biggest thing you need to focus on is completing this program. When I go downtown Atlanta and burned down any buildings down and whatever else is going on, we're gonna do is we're going to complete this program complete this race. So each of you are in a position to Buddha go and make a difference. And I that does things a little bit, killed the hurt, necessarily, but maybe gave them a little bit of a reset or recharge. And like, we know you're hurting, we're all hurting. We're all just bewildered right? Not sure if we're left or right up or down, we're here together experiencing this, I need you to is forcefully last several weeks, they really come in from didactic and then I can't remember the group. But so really refocusing them. So you could feel it. It was I mean, it wasn't on TV, it was in the room, although we were virtual, you could feel their hurt, you could feel my hurt. I mean, it was it was the faculty and staff everybody together. But it was a time where I will say we came together. And you know, you always connect sometimes the faculty, you're doing this as soon as you're doing this, but it was a moment where we came together and we hurt together. You know, we hurt and we and we heal together. We looked for that healing in that moment. So I'll never forget that. I think I've shared that that story before. But I'll never forget that because I'm gonna be honest, before I got on that call with them. I was trying to figure out what am I going to say, you know, I was dealing with my own my family, like just just you just just trying to sort through it. And so, you know, I had to really figure out my role and the unknown program director, but my role in this that wasn't part of my job description, but my role in you know, in this moment, and what my students what the team needed. And so I realized very quickly, you know, I've got a handle on this, that yes, they're here to learn medicine. But we got to do a little bit of life talk as well. So that kind of ties into your question about how do we prepare them? I think honest, talk, you know, making sure that there's space there, whether it's a director's dialogue, giving them room because, you know, they did actually take action after that call after we were on there. But it was the right action. It was I think they did the you know, the kneeling at Grady, and so collectively got with some other groups and went and figured out a productive way to make a stance. And so yeah, so a little bit of that, just some heart to heart conversations, some just transparency and honesty, if you will, with them. And then a lot of times it's a listening ear, I'm to be told that I believe there is a maybe a webinar coming up here in the next little bit with pa that where they're going to be doing some anti racism, conversation again, we had a student back then, so a couple of years ago, who participated, he was on that panel, and spoke so deeply and eloquently and represented, you know, himself with the institution and the profession very well. So I think those spaces and making them aware that that space is available is part of what we try to do as well.

Unknown Speaker  39:18  
Yeah, and I think about that timeframe. COVID was already really complex. And we were all scared and and as directors I'd certainly to speak I'm sure you both felt the same way. I felt I was scared for the safety of our students and our team and navigating, you know, the potential issues with rotations. And then late that late May with George Floyd. Yes, it was such a sucker punch to society. But But I think, you know, like, like you we had similar conversations, the challenge I have, and maybe the hope I have, the challenge is it keeps happening. So each time there's another incident, it's like, okay, now does just sound like I'm just pulling out a tape of what I said that year. The hope I have. And then what I'm excited to see is that there, there does appear to be some continuity of effort on anti racism work in our profession. And I appreciate pas leadership on that, and many others who have really been leading this conversation and pushing it that way, from a place of tremendous vulnerability. So that we can all figure out how to do this better.

Unknown Speaker  40:30  
Yeah. Yeah. Agreed. Agreed.

Unknown Speaker  40:34  
And, you know, I think there's an onus on us as, as educators, and as PA program directors to continue this dialogue. And I think, you know, I think we all have varying levels of experience in knowing how to approach this type of thing, when it comes up, when we're seeing things on a national level that are occurring that, you know, there's a dialogue occurring and, and I think, while it's sometimes uncomfortable, and sometimes we don't know how to navigate it, the worst thing we can do is say nothing, right? Our students are hurting, they are affected, they are confused, they are wondering how this intersects with their own personal lives and with their their professional lives as a PA and how, what their responsibility is both personally and professionally to this. And so I think, to not engage those dialogues with our students, we're doing them a disservice.

Unknown Speaker  41:22  
Right? I agree. I agree. as uncomfortable as they are, you know, they're necessary if you're true, you know, to Michigan, if you're true to what I believe this profession is trying to move towards, and that is define their profession. So, you know, I was really amazed to learn. And I don't know why because, you know, I've been at a couple other institutions before coming to Morehouse. But maybe it was just in that moment, the reality of Yeah, most institutions, most PA programs, because we're focusing on pa right now, you know, really don't give room to talking about social determinants of health, you know, there's a half an hour on it. And let's move on, versus really looking to how can we baked this in? How can we make this, you know, a thread that goes all the way through? And maybe it doesn't have to be a series of four courses as we've done it, but how do we do more than that, that, you know, as much as we want to teach students to, you know, interpret EKGs and X rays? And how do we also make sure you know, that we're teaching this, this very necessary lesson on diversity and inclusion? What is our responsibility? And I get it, you know, there's still conversation around the standards and what that means, but not even going that far, but really just for the sake of humanity, what what, what can we do better as educators. And sometimes, I'll just say, sometimes, I think it's less than just the listening ear, he listened to, you know, as opposed to move it off the table, just pause and listen, sometimes, you know, it's just good to let folks get out what they need to say. And I think maybe that day, that's what the students really appreciated, you know that, in fact, they were given that space to speak freely. So I just encourage my colleagues across the PA, profession and education to make time you know, somewhere in there make time. Even if you can't redo your curriculum, there's a way to tease it in there Lunch and Learns partnering we are we are Morehouse School of Medicine, we would be happy to partner in some way so that our students can dialogue and our faculty and staff can create that bridge. So you got, as you said, to say nothing is probably the worst thing, or to close your ears is probably second to that, but to I don't know, to engage.

Unknown Speaker  43:45  
With Angela, we usually like to finish out our time together with just kind of opening, opening it up to you and seeing if there's anything that you'd like to discuss that we didn't really get to today with the questions that we ask, do you have some final parting thoughts or anything else that you'd like to add today?

Unknown Speaker  44:02  
Let me see. Let me think here. This has been good. And obviously we're coming off by heavy topics. So you know, I did a ship there. Because I'll just say now that I want to go we don't have to go right back down that road, but it's not a turn off, turn on, turn off, if you will. So you know, that we went there. And so my heart my mind, my everything in me is back in that moment and the reality of, of where we are as a country. You know, maybe we're not where we were, but where there's still so much work to be done, you know, and that, you know, don't get me started on gender equity and you know, it's a nother whole conversation. We could go down and stay there park there for a while. But um, yeah, so it's to me, definitely not a turn on tone or upbeat debate. The main thing that I say is, you know, especially to my students or any students of color out there, I mean, I know we're targeting prospective students but You know, we've got this new term grid that we all say, you know, looking for grid looking for the resiliency, are they gonna be able to make it through? And there's so much truth in that, you know, and probably that's what's kept kept me on my feet all of these years, and through this accreditation process is that resiliency. But, you know, I guess, as I think of African Americans, in particular, and I'll speak from that, personally, I think that's what has kept us in this fight, if you will, so long, is being a resilient people, you know, we don't have to go all the way back down our history of coming to this country, but that grit of, you know, it's gonna get better, you know, there's gonna be a way and you know, there's so much history and being able to believe that and say that. So yeah, I just think as we continue these conversations, even in our admissions processes, you know, we all say that we're looking for that perfect candidate that has that has that grit. And I just think we need to do a better job as educators as programs, weaving that into all aspects of our programs. So you know, I think we've talked about diversifying our student body, diversifying faculty diversifying staff. And yeah, maybe that factor or that criteria of grit is something we need to take across all of those means. Yeah, and again, don't get me started on pipeline programs. That's one of the things we do so eloquently. And Morehouse, literally, Sandy, the Papermate, we are with, you know, we're at elementary schools, helping them with science fairs and trying to teach them what a stethoscope is I the first time I went to school, we partner with his Tuskegee elementary here in Atlanta. And so the first time I went over there was still kind of new to the institution. I went over there hit my white coat had a stethoscope, and obviously, the first thing they thought was, I want to be a doctor, like, okay, how can I do to explain PA, eight, nine year olds, like, I'm not a doctor, but you know, let me so it was just just a fun thing. And something that we do so well at Morehouse is to make sure we're tapping in we have so many pipeline programs at so many different levels, starting elementary, high school, even undergraduate programs to try to make sure we're preparing students to be able to come into this. So I also encourage, you know, my colleagues across the country to think about those programs. So figure out what is the means to be able to start diversifying our classrooms and it might mean, you know, starting at that elementary school, that's inner city or, you know, that's the verse to say, we're gonna park we're gonna, where your partner were to adopt this school, and we're going to be the difference. So I can get on a soapbox, I'll try not to, oh,

Unknown Speaker  47:54  
no, no, it's very important. And I think, I think you made a great point about that. And the other end that I'll just put a plug in is, is we, we need to be cognizant of our bias and, and, you know, ensuring that your team is going through implicit bias training, before you start looking at applicants. And, and, and having a leadership culture around the table that you can have those kind of call each other out on things. If somebody says something, you're like, ah, that's really your brain and bias, it's going to be a problem, we need to throw it throw the the tough nut that that sounds like the referees flagging table to say, timeout, let's have a conversation. And let's rethink this applicant. So it is it takes a lot of different approaches for us to fix this mess.

Unknown Speaker  48:41  
Agreed, agreed, we use a term and it's institutional, widely use a term that we say we have, we bring in students with diverse academic backgrounds. And so that's why I can, you know, openly say, we're not looking for all 4.0 or 3.8, we're looking for a diverse group of students. And then obviously, we're tasked with making sure we have those support systems in place for all of our learners. And so we're still growing and learning as a team, what that looks like and what we need to do to maneuver that. But you know, it might mean, taking a look at diverse academic learners, you know, they're coming from all different backgrounds and training, and everybody's not going to look the same on paper. And you don't want that. So it might, you know, yeah, I don't want that out. I'll just leave it at that, that, in fact, diversity of thought, I mean, there's so much power in that we all grow.

Unknown Speaker  49:38  
Well, Dr. Dawson, thank you so much for being with us today. And we appreciate your thoughts and your insights and hearing more about Morehouse School of Medicine. And we hope our listeners learned some things about your you and your program today.

Unknown Speaker  49:50  
Thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker  49:52  
We'd like to thank our guest, Dr. Angela Dawson for sharing her insights about her path to becoming a BA about the Morehouse School of MIT It's in PA program and about very important topics around racial justice. Tune in next week as we celebrate National Coming Out Day by bringing on a very important guest, Mr. Joseph Burwell. Joseph is the only pa known to have transitioned while serving with the CIA. And Joseph has done amazing work internationally, and also in the United States related to medical mission work and asylum seeking care for individuals seeking asylum in the United States that are also trans or transitioning. Until next time, we wish you success with whatever path you're 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 on this podcast are those of the speakers and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the University of Arizona.

Transcribed by

Pangela DawsonProfile Photo

Pangela Dawson

Chair, Assistant Dean, Founding Program Director

Dr. Pangela Dawson joined Morehouse School of Medicine in August of 2017 as the Founding Program Director for the Physician Assistant Program. After designing, developing, and implementing the new program, she was quickly promoted to assistant dean and department chair. Under these expanded titles, Dr. Dawson established one of newest departments for the institution. Prior to arriving at Morehouse School of Medicine, she earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy Studies and Evaluation in Higher Education from the University of Kentucky. Her dissertation focused on utilizing community-based educational and health-promotion strategies to assist domestic violence survivors in the marginalized communities. During this time, she also completed a certificate of study in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her academic training includes a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College and a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Dawson began her academic career at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, where she served as Director of the Clinical Education. Her role included overseeing 300 regional, national, and international clinical sites and over 700 rotation experiences for students during the clinical year. Dr. Dawson later received academic appointments at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) School of Osteopathic Medicine as the Director of the Physician Assistant and Master of Biomedical Sciences Programs. She also served as the Clinical Coordinator at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA). In this role, she worked to collaborate with community affiliations across south Texas and throughout the San Antonio metropolitan area.

As a practicing physician assistant, Dr. Dawson specialized in orthopedic pediatrics and chronic pain management and rehabilitation. Her current research interests include identifying early indicators for student success and enhancing cultural proficiencies in medical education.