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Presidents Message - September 2020

Friday, September 25, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Blake Manz
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PA Day and Diversity

Hello Fellow Wisconsin PAs,

I sat with my thoughts for some time trying to think of what to write about for my first President’s message. So much has changed since I campaigned for this position a year and a half ago. As I was thinking, I thought of PA Day and what it means to me to be a PA. I also thought about my campaign for WAPA President-Elect. I ran on driving the CARES Act across the finish line and increasing membership in WAPA. Both are still worthy goals, but there is more…SO MUCH MORE!

Before I dedicate time to sharing what PA Day means to me I want to talk about two incidents that happened in my family. I will preface these stories by saying I am a middle aged white man who hasn’t the first clue what it is like to live life as a person of color. Though hard off sometimes growing up, I was privileged enough to never truly suffer in my course of life. The second preface I will make is I was blessed with a grandson February, 2017 who is a person of color. The first incident occurred when he was merely a few months old. My daughter was food shopping and was paying with a food share card. A man in line behind her said, “It figures she would be using food stamps with a tree monkey in the cart”. It was the first time I realized that racism is not just skin heads with tattoos or KKK figures in cloaks, it is the people you live with. The second incident happened more recently. Again, my daughter was out, and this time was at a Kwik Trip paying for gas. My grandson got excited and proclaimed “Look Momma a big red truck” about a semi getting fuel. Again, someone behind them remarked “It’s not often you see a negro boy getting excited about trucks”. Both incidents made me upset and gave me just a small sample of what people of color go through daily. Couple this with the recent awakening about the need for racial justice and equality, and I think about what more I can do in my time as President. I want to lead WAPA’s re-dedication toward diversity. As a first step, at the last board of directors meeting, it was decided to resurrect the Diversity Committee. I asked Jackie Oraedu to be Chair of the committee and she agreed. I am excited about what the committee will do over the remainder of my presidency and beyond.

So, you might wonder if I was going to get back to what PA day means to me and how diversity ties in. PA day is a celebration of our profession and from the very first classes graduated from Duke, the profession has been about access. To me this is not just access to the medical care our profession provides to patients, but also about access to the profession in the first place. At the diversity forum recently hosted by WAPA, it was mentioned, among many issues with diversity in our profession, that just having the funds to apply to PA programs can be an issue for some people of color. One of the first ideas I will be exploring with Jackie and the Diversity Committee is increasing access to the PA profession by offering mini scholarships to deserving people of color to pay for the CASPA application.

Finally, as we head further into what I like to call the silly season {election), try and be neighborly to each other. Remember it is different ideas that make the country a better place. Be forgiving and remember diversity cannot work unless we are willing to accept each other. Happy PA day and week to you all a little early. On PA day/week, I hope you all will think about what being a PA means to you.

Kindest Regards,
Roger Lovelace, WAPA President