My name is Kathryn Reed, and I am the founder and President of the National Society of Black Physician Assistants (NSBPA). The mission of this organization has been on my mind since I began my Physician Assistant education in 2014. It finally came to fruition in its initial (and rough) form in July of 2018. Over the last year and a half, I have been in contact with mentors, coworkers, and peers to formally create the NSBPA that you see today.
The NSBPA was created, in part, to bring together the efforts of Black PAs who are actively mentoring and sharing their experiences, and to make space for PAs who wish to do the same. This organization is meant to increase access for individuals who may not know any currently practicing Black PAs or Black PA students. The importance of having a safe space to discuss the intricacies of being Black PA students, and practicing Black providers, cannot be overstated; nor can the importance of representation.
My background begins in Mansfield, OH where I was born and raised. I then moved to Pittsburgh, PA in August of 2010 to attend the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing an engineering degree with a plan to attend medical school. However, I ultimately adjusted course, and changed majors. I graduated in 2014 with my Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medicine, and a minor in Chemistry. I became a National Registry Certified Paramedic through my major and worked full-time while applying for PA programs. I was accepted into the University of Pittsburgh’s Physician Assistant Studies Program and subsequently graduated in 2016. Currently, I am a Certified Physician Assistant practicing internal medicine on an acute inpatient behavioral health unit at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Pittsburgh.
In 2018, I completed a yearlong 200-hour, anti-racism framed, yoga teacher training with Yoga Roots on Location (YROL) in Pittsburgh. This program’s focus on social justice work within our own communities solidified my plan to create NSBPA. YROL provided me with specific language, tools, and a sounding board that have been invaluable assets to this process.
The hard work, village of support, and obstacles that had to be overcome are not stated in the above paragraphs, but that does not make them any less real. My goal for this organization, ultimately, is to create a base of support for other Black individuals as they transition through the PA process and into this career. Our mental health and wellbeing are directly related to the patient care that we are able to provide. I am hoping that this is a step toward building a lasting community of support.
Please take time to view our website, and consider joining our organization. Let's reshape what Physician Assistant education, mentorship, and healthcare look like!