Increasing racial and ethnic diversity at the university of utah physician assistant program

Darin Ryujin, Jared Spackman, Trenton J. Honda, Virginia L. Valentin, Doris Dalton, Mauricio Laguan, Wendy L. Hobson, José E. Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Among the oldest in the nation, the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP) serves the state of Utah and surrounding areas and is a division of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. Recognizing the need to produce health care providers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, UPAP instituted structural changes to improve student compositional diversity. This paper is a presentation and evaluation of the changes made to determine their relationship with compositional diversity, ultimate practice setting, and national rankings. METHODS: UPAP changed diversity messaging, curriculum, efforts in ad-missions, recruitment, and retention to improve the representation of Black, Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students, as well as those from educationally and economically dis-advantaged backgrounds. RESULTS: UPAP tripled the number of underrepresented minority matricu-lated students over the course of five admitted classes, while simultaneously increasing the proportion of students from educationally or economically dis-advantaged backgrounds. UPAP maintains both high boards pass rate and top national rankings, (number two ranking in public physician assistant program and number four overall program in the United States). CONCLUSIONS: The UPAP experience demonstrates that intentional diversity efforts are associated with improvement in racial/ethnic diversity and national rankings. Other medical school graduate programs, specifically the medical doctor (MD), public health, and basic science programs can use this model to improve their compositional diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-375
Number of pages4
JournalFamily Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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