Methodist, UNCP partner to encourage diversity in health professions

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Methodist University’s Physician Assistant Program announces that it has entered into an articulation agreement with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke designed to strengthen the program’s goal of encouraging diversity in the health professions programs.

“This agreement that promotes American Indians to pursue a PA degree couldn’t come at a better time for UNC Pembroke and Robeson County,” said UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “Partnering with Methodist is an innovative approach to addressing longstanding health care challenges in southeastern North Carolina by educating more in-demand providers. This highly competitive program will create an important pathway for our students to make a difference right here at home."

Christina Perry, director of Methodist University’s PA program, said the school, through the agreement, will reserve a maximum of two seats in the program for qualified UNCP graduates who are identified as American Indians, beginning with the Class of 2023.

“We are excited and honored to be affiliated with UNCP,” Perry said. “We have actively recruited students from Robeson County and UNCP for many years. Students from UNCP have been outstanding and well-prepared for our rigorous program, then have returned to their community after graduation to fill the needs of the medically underserved. We look forward to the many positive outcomes that this partnership will provide for students and the local community.”

The agreement stems from Methodist University PA Program’s efforts to increase diversity in recruiting and to support a Health Resources and Services Administration grant the program received in 2016.  Throughout the funding period, which ends this year, the grant has provided $1.59 million toward 32 scholarships for accepted PA students from underrepresented backgrounds and who have demonstrated financial need.

Leslie Lovette was the single mother of a toddler when she entered Methodist University’s Physician Assistant program in 2012. She graduated in 2014 and returned to Robeson County, where she works with Robeson Health Care Corp.

Perry said the program often credits Lovette with inspiring the other American Indian students who followed her.

"I think the partnership between the Methodist University PA Program and UNCP is awesome,” Lovette said. “Thanks to both of these institutions, I was able to become a physician assistant without relocating from my home in Robeson County. Both schools are passionate about improving healthcare resources around this area as well as increasing availability of higher education to native students.”