“Representation in medicine is essential. The ability of a provider to mirror their patients and understand their lived experiences gives them the ability to facilitate communication and build trust. By understanding the system of medicine, I can better advocate for my future patients and their medical needs. Diversifying the PA profession will help improve the health outcomes of disenfranchised and communities of color.”Gabrielle Aiden, the 2023 NCAPA Trailblazer Scholarship Recipient
This February, the NCAPA is highlighting the 2023 recipient of the NCAPA Trailblazer Scholarship, which was created to support Black/African American PA students during their second year of PA school.
The NCAPA is excited to announce that the 2023 Trailblazer Scholarship Recipient is Gabrielle Aiden from the Duke University PA Program.
When the NCAPA asked Gabrielle of her past and current contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Aiden replied, “As a Black woman my identity has always made me aware of the ways in which race plays a role in my daily activities, how I interact with the world around me, and the barriers I must overcome. As a child, I was always interested in science and medicine, but I knew no one who looked like me working in the field of medicine. I quickly recognized the importance of representation and mentorship; the importance of seeing yourself in the people you admire, while having the guidance and support to achieve your dreams. As I chose a career in medicine, I was committed to dismantling barriers to success, and to ensure underrepresented students would have access to the necessary resources to make their dreams a reality.”
Aiden continued, “In college, [I] had a leadership role with the Global Medical Brigades chapter at my university and worked to recruit students of color to help organize and facilitate medical clinics and public health programs abroad. Together we helped provide dental, gynecological, pharmaceutical, and other medical resources for under-resourced communities in Nicaragua and Ghana. I also worked with my professor to run an after-school program for students of color at an elementary school in an underserved community. The goal of the program was to expose students to medicine and public health. We introduced them to healthcare careers and developed activities aimed at proper nutrition, physical activity, hygiene, and personal well-being.”
“A priority for myself while in PA school was to continue my involvement in diversity initiatives and to help increase access to resources in my community,” Aiden shared. “I began volunteering with Root Causes, working with both graduate and undergraduate students, as well as community members to pack fresh produce for families who were food insecure in the Durham area. I also serve on the Stead Society diversity and inclusion committee. Together we worked on projects to highlight and celebrate the diversity of our class, brought attention to the changing landscape of healthcare in our country, and worked to create equitable and safe spaces for all of our classmates.”
The NCAPA asked Aiden of her plans to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future, to which Aiden replied, “My motivation for pursuing a career as Physician Assistant (PA) stems from my drive to improve health outcomes for underserved populations, and to prioritize equity and diversity within the field of medicine. I believe meeting patients where they are is essential. In order to better care for patients, being able to recognize the structural barriers that impact medical decisions and the well-being of each of my patients including but not limited to economic, physical, and socio-political barriers is crucial. My hope is to work in rural and under-resourced communities, which will involve working with individuals from diverse backgrounds with varying needs.”
Aiden continued, “Acknowledging the complex history and relationship marginalized people have with medicine is essential to the delivery of equitable care. Patients should be given the space to voice their concerns. As a PA acknowledging and understanding the ways implicit bias impacts the delivery of care and how providers interact and treat their patients is essential. As a PA I hope to work to bring awareness to the systemic impact and burden many patients face. I plan to work with other PAs and interdisciplinary teams to increase cultural competency and to use our skills, knowledge, and ingenuity to identify the medical needs of patients. I want to be at the forefront of eliminating disparities and to positively change the course of healthcare outcomes.”
To learn more about the NCAPA Trailblazer Scholarship, click here. The 2024 application cycle will open in Spring of 2024.