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Reflections of the 2017-18 student leadership fellows

Each year, the LBGT PA Caucus chooses PA students to participate in the Student Leadership Fellows program.  This program includes a scholarship to allow the fellows to attend the annual AAPA Conference, as well a a year-long mentorship program, developed and led by LBGT PA Caucus members.

Student fellows are chosen through a competitive selection process that includes an essay, interview, and recommendations of teachers or supervisors.  Fellows are selected based on the following qualities:  integrity, service, leadership, inspiration/overcoming adversity, financial need, innovation, and knowledge, skills and abilities.  You can learn more about the Fellowship program here.

The Caucus has asked the students to reflect on their experiences as a Student Leadership Fellow.  We invite you to read their responses below.

Hanna Rajabi, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Becoming a Student Leadership Fellow for the LBGT PA Caucus changed my experience in PA school.  With the knowledge that I was part of something bigger, the Caucus gave me confidence to continue to work to implement LGBTQ health issues into my own program and medical school.  Seeing LBGT PAs who are at the forefront of creating change within the AAPA was inspirational, and showed me that there was a community of out and hardworking PAs who I would always have a connection with. 

At the 2017 AAPA Conference, I got to see the LBGT PA Caucus put their hard work into action through the House of Delegates, as well as demonstrate their leadership in LGBT healthcare through the Sexual and Gender Minority Health panel.  I was encouraged to see how many PAs and PA students came by our booth in the exhibit hall, inquiring about the Caucus, and asking us specific questions on how to improve healthcare for their transgender and LGB patients.  It really demonstrated how much support we have as a Caucus, and how much more work there is to do to be able to provide the best care we can to our community. 

It was wonderful to wrap up the conference at the annual reception, recognizing some of the oldest and founding members of the Caucus, as well as some of the newest, with myself and fellow Student Leadership recipients!  With the hilarious Sin Sisters helping to raise money with their superior paddling skills demonstrated on Jonathan (who sacrificed his bottom for the sake of the Caucus), the evening was filled with laughs and a celebration of our fun and diverse community.  I’m excited for the future of the Caucus and to continue to be involved with the LGBT PA community, actively working on improving the healthcare of our patients, and growing into the best future provider that I can be.

Stefan Meers, Florida International University, Miami, FL

When I was first chosen as a Student Leadership Fellow for the LGBT PA Caucus, I was both humbled and honored.  The Caucus represents everything I stand for and believe in, and I connected with so many amazing individuals who embody these values.  From the first day at the conference last May, I felt so welcomed by members of the Caucus.  I felt like a part of a community.

What I enjoyed most about the conference was seeing how many people came up to our booth seeking guidance on working with patients from the LGBT community.  In my experience as a patient, so few providers ask the pertinent questions or are even comfortable talking about sexuality and gender.  It’s been assumed so many times that I am heterosexual, and has even been documented as such.  I was surprised by how many providers came to our booth.

I was also very pleased by the turn out to the HIV CME.  There are so many providers who are so out of date as far as HIV treatment and prevention go.  They don’t know how to initiate PrEP and don’t talk to their high risk patients about it.  The seminar was so informative and provided clinicians the tools and resources that they need.  It was very apparent that this information needs to be readily available.

I left the conference with a renewed hope in the future of patient care.  We still have a lot of work to do as far as educating providers on the approach to seeing patients from the LGBT community, but the Caucus is making a lot of progress.

My goal as part of the Caucus is to make resources readily available for PAs hoping to provide culturally competent healthcare to their LGBT patients.  I’m not sure exactly what form this will take, but I was hoping to work on a digital CME that would be linked on our website.

Vicki Wong, CUNY School of Medicine, New York, NY

Check out Vicki's creative talent in the video she produced during her experience at AAPA 2017 in Las Vegas.

Remember:  Medicine is an art and a science.
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