Reflections of 2018-2019 student leader fellows
Each year, the LBGT PA Caucus selects a number of PA students to participate in the Student Leader Fellowship program. This program includes a scholarship to support the fellows' attendance at the annual AAPA Conference, where they have the opportunity to expand their horizons on PA leadership. Student fellows sit in on House of Delegates (HOD) proceedings, meet with Caucus and HOD leaders (many of whom are LBGT PA Caucus members as well), and support the various Caucus events throughout Conference. The program also includes a year-long mentorship program, developed and led by LBGT PA Caucus members.
Student fellows are chosen through a competitive selection process, guided by the qualities of: integrity, service, leadership, inspiration, overcoming adversity, financial need, innovation, and knowledge, skills and abilities. You can learn more about the Fellowship program here.
In 2019, the Caucus awarded 3 fellowship positions to:
The LBGT PA Caucus is happy to introduce you to our recent student fellows through their reflections after attending the AAPA 2019 Conference as Student Leader Fellows.
Blake Beck, PA-C
2019 Graduate of University of the Pacific
Just one year after coming out to friends and family, I added my name to the “out list” on the LBGT PA Caucus website. At that time, I was a first-year PA student still learning to be comfortable as an openly gay man, yet eager to contribute to the mission of the Caucus and connect with like-minded professionals. I soon realized that the Caucus would open up many more doors of opportunity.
My introduction to the Caucus began as a student member attending the 2018 AAPA Conference in New Orleans. The leaders of the Caucus welcomed me with open arms and I instantly felt connected to the group. Although I wasn’t a fellow at the time, I was still able to engage with the Caucus by attending their evening events, sitting with the Caucus delegate in the House of Delegates (HOD), volunteering at the exhibit hall booth, and attending CME presentations. The Caucus displayed unwavering support for me as a student and I was determined to stay involved.
Following the 2018 conference, I was humbled to be selected as a student leader fellow. With this opportunity, I was able to participate in the monthly board calls. On these calls, I learned a great deal about organizational leadership skills and witnessed first-hand the hard work that the leaders of the Caucus contribute year-round to ensure its success.
The Caucus also encouraged the student leader fellows to take on a project that aligns with their mission of achieving LGBT healthcare equity. For my project, I researched the link between sexual minorities and cardiovascular disease. The title of my capstone paper was “Are Sexual Minorities at an Increased Risk for Cardiovascular Disease?” and it was presented to my classmates and faculty at University of the Pacific. This topic encourages primary care providers to consider how a patient’s sexual orientation may be contributing to their overall risk for a given disease.
In addition to being a student fellow with the Caucus, I also had the opportunity to serve as a delegate with the Student Academy in the HOD at the 2019 AAPA Conference in Denver. Leading up to the conference, it was so beneficial to participate in the policy conference calls lead by Diane Bruessow, Director of Policy and Education for the LBGT PA Caucus. These discussions were invaluable as I reviewed the resolutions and considered how they could impact the profession. While in the HOD, it was inspiring to witness the coordinated efforts of the Caucus as we passed a resolution to take a stand for the transgender community and their right to serve in our military.
Outside of the HOD, there were so many more highlights for the Caucus in Denver. The welcome reception and student recognition events were well attended and provided a great professional networking opportunity. Our awesome Speaker’s Bureau delivered a jam-packed day of CME presentations, educating our peers on how to provide better care to our LGBTQ patients. The annual Reception for LGBT Health Equity is always a favorite of mine, as it highlights the mission of the Caucus in a meaningful way. This year the Caucus recognized Servicios de la Raza with its annual host city award. I was moved by the work that this small organization does to provide support and resources to the HIV+ latinx LGBTQ community in Denver. Being a member of the Caucus has truly made me feel like I am part of a greater purpose.
It didn’t take me long to realize that there are LGBTQ+ leaders throughout the PA profession. This representation is so important, and I am thankful to the LBGT PA Caucus for its commitment to building these leaders. Whether you are a PA student or practicing PA, LGBTQ+ identifying or an ally—I encourage you to join this amazing group!
See ya’ll in Nashville!
Lauren Wooley, PA-S
2nd year PA student at Lenoir-Rhyne University
As soon as I left the 2018 AAPA Conference in New Orleans, I was already counting down to this year’s conference in Denver. 1 year… 365 days to go. 365 days to learn from the LBGT PA Caucus board of directors, to learn how a constituent organization is run, to learn how to be an SGM (sexual and gender minority) health advocate, and to learn how to be an effective leader. From the start of my term as a fellow I felt supported like never before, both by Caucus board members as well as Blake and Danny, my wonderful co-fellows. It was an amazing feeling to know that there were other people out there, just like me, who were working towards the same goals for SGM healthcare advancement. Not only that, but these exceptional leaders wanted to ensure my co-fellows and I achieved our goals and nurtured our individual interests. They opened up so many doors to opportunities to serve the Caucus, the PA profession, and the entire LGBTQ+ population as a whole. With their support I was able to develop and deliver an introductory SGM healthcare lecture to my PA program, and they are continuing to support this dream of developing SGM healthcare curriculum.
My experience at the 2019 AAPA Conference this year was incredible to say the least, and I’m so grateful for the scholarship the fellowship granted me that helped make this experience a reality. This year the House of Delegates (HOD) had an LBGT PA Caucus presence like never before, and I am so very thankful for the opportunity to experience the HOD thanks to the Student Leader Fellowship. It was so inspiring to be able to see multiple Caucus members working seamlessly together to champion for a resolution which addressed the lack of rationale to exclude transgender members from serving in the military and championed for trans service members to have access to the necessary medical care. There was no better way to commemorate the Caucus’ 40th year advocating for LGBTQ+ health equality (although the annual Health Equity Reception certainly was a close second). On top of this achievement, multiple members of our Speaker’s Bureau were able to do what they do best as SGM subject matter experts and delivered a full day of CME sessions regarding SGM healthcare. These lectures were beyond informative and well-delivered, and it was amazing to witness how many other PAs and PA students attended these CME sessions.
In addition to these other wonderful opportunities, the fellows are charged with the important task of operating the LBGT PA Caucus booth in the event hall. This allowed me to connect with other PAs and PA students and spread the mission of the LBGT PA Caucus as well as (hopefully) inspire other students to join the Caucus and apply for this amazing fellowship opportunity. I can’t express enough how much I loved being able to meet all of these new future colleagues, and it was incredibly humbling and inspiring to see just how many allies are within the PA profession who were willing to proudly display a rainbow ribbon on their ID badges. To all of you who stopped by the booth and let us tell you about all of the amazing things the LBGT PA Caucus does – thank you.
Even after all of these remarkable experiences I already described, my favorite memory from this year’s conference, of course, had to be being a member of the LBGT PA Caucus bowling team competing in the bowling tournament at this year’s PA Foundation PArty For a Purpose. While the actual bowling part wasn’t our strong suit, the spirit of the Caucus was out full throttle and our team was able to win the Most Entertaining Team award! Needless to say, that trophy is never leaving the bookshelf it’s proudly displayed on.
While I’m sad that my term has ended, I’m grateful to continue serving the Caucus as a member of the Student Leader Fellowship Committee to help ensure this experience benefits many, many LGBTQ+ PA students to come. I cannot thank all of the Caucus board members enough for their mentorship and guidance. Additionally, I would like to give a huge thank you to Cameron Nicholson, Caucus board Director-At-Large and former student fellow, who first introduced me to the Caucus and urged me to apply for the Student Leader Fellowship. Without you, none of this would have been possible.
Cameron and Lauren at AAPA 2018 in NOLA
3rd year PA student at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
My experience as a Student Leader Fellow has truly made a huge impact on me not only as a future healthcare provider but also as a person. Being surrounded by this community who fights for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community everyday has been one of my biggest motivators through PA school. My journey with the Caucus began initially at AAPA 2018 in New Orleans when I first met everyone, and I then became a Student Leader Fellow attending AAPA 2019 in Denver.
Getting to sit in on the House of Delegates (HOD) introduced me to the policy work that the Caucus does. The HOD enacts policies establishing values and principles of the PA profession. I was able to see over 15 Caucus members help pass a resolution supporting trans service members and this has inspired me to get more involved in the HOD next year at AAPA 2020. I also sat in on monthly board calls to see how the board functions and listen to important discussions on what the Caucus does throughout the year.
I was also able to utilize my past public relations work and launch the social media presence of the Caucus on Facebook and Instagram. Students and new PAs make up a huge amount of current AAPA members, and social media is the largest platform needed to ensure these members have access to LGBTQ+ health information as providers. Lack of education is a constant problem with LGBTQ people having access to care so we also utilize these platforms to provide information for patients seeking care as well.
Working in the exhibit hall booth at AAPA 2019 gave me the opportunity to network and meet many different people. I was able to have a meaningful conversation with a mother about her son coming out to her as trans. I also was able to introduce many students to the Caucus and provide them with information on how to get involved.
I was initially drawn to this opportunity because I’m interested in providing healthcare to the LBGTQ+ community as a provider and I wanted to meet others with similar goals. I was not expecting the Caucus to become such a significant part of my life, but the mission and members really have become a family to me. Coming from Orlando, Florida, my community was significantly impacted by the Pulse shooting. A part of me felt lost after that, and I honestly can’t put into words how the Caucus has helped me find myself again since then--but they have.
This opportunity has reminded me of what it takes to achieve your goals. This opportunity has taught me how to advocate for LGBT health. This opportunity has encouraged me to be true to myself and stand for others. This opportunity has been a once in a life time experience that I’ll never forget, and these relationships I’ve made will last forever. My time with the Caucus is just beginning and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.