University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
September 26, 2013
Contact: Alice Jackson, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6639

USA’s Physician Assistant Studies Program Receives 2013 Excellence Through Diversity Award

The Physician Studies Program in the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions at the University of South Alabama has been named recipient of the 2013 Excellence Through Diversity Award from the national Physician Assistant Education Association.

The award recognizes the outstanding commitments and achievements of the University’s physician assistant program for its noteworthy contributions to promoting diversity in all areas of physician assistant education. Nominees were graded on outreach and recruitment from diverse and underserved population, training and educational experiences in diversity-related activities for faculty and staff, research and scholarship pertaining to diversity and the inclusion process as well as leadership and advocacy related to diversity.

“One of the highest priorities of the University of South Alabama, and in turn the department of physician assistant studies, is to include diversity with our faculty, staff and students,” said Dr. Ron Franks, vice president for health sciences. “We are so honored the department has won this award in recognition of our efforts to recruit a body of students who will be evermore capable of addressing the needs of our increasingly diverse area.”

Dr. Diane Abercrombie, chair of physician assistant studies, said this fall’s entering class of 40 students includes two African-Americans and four Hispanic students. She credits the addition of a federally funded educational outreach specialist to the department’s staff as having a major impact on diversity efforts.

“We are definitely seeing the benefits of adding that position, and we expect even more diverse representation in next year’s class,” Abercrombie said.

More than 600 applications have already been received for next year’s entering class, and Abercrombie said that number is expected to surpass last year’s total of 700 applicants.

The designation from PAEA includes a plaque and a $500 award. Abercrombie hopes to use the money to raise enough additional funds to establish a department scholarship for diversity.

The Physician Assistant Education Association is the only national organization in the United States representing physician assistant educational programs. PAEA serves as a resource for individuals and organizations from various professional sectors interested in the educational aspects of the physician assistant profession. It is the organization primarily responsible for collecting, publishing and disseminating information on the physician assistant programs.

For more information about USA’s physician assistant program, visit and click on “physician assistant studies.” 


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