Celebrating Black PAs 2018

Lamont Hunter, PA-C, MPH

1.      Where did you attend PA school? 

I’m a proud graduate of Touro's Joint PA/MPH program. I was a part of the first full class (2006).

2.      What initially attracted you to becoming a PA?

I always consider myself the “accidental PA” because the profession found me more than me finding it. In 2006, I was in the middle of completing my second unsuccessful application cycle to medical school that included both MD and DO schools. One of the osteopathic programs that I applied to was Touro. Unfortunately, Touro did not accept me into the DO program but felt that my experience and education was ideal for their new PA/MPH program. At the time, I had never worked with a PA and never knew that it was an option to accomplish my goal of taking care of patients. After talking to a great physician friend who had worked closely with PAs and spoke highly of them, I went ahead and accepted the offer for interview. I was accepted soon after the interview and started school about 3 months later!!!

Lamont Hunter, PA-C, MPH3.      Since practicing, what is something that has made you more passionate about being a PA?

My passion is continually renewed with every opportunity that I have to teach and mentor prospective PA students. I also love taking care of patients and talking with them and their families.

4.      What specialty are you currently practicing in?

Emergency medicine for the last 10+ years.

5.      What do you like most about the specialty?

The variety of patients that we care for is the most enjoyable part of working in emergency medicine. Everything from simple cough and colds to abdominal and chest pain to lacerations keeps our days really interesting.

6.      Are you involved in any other healthcare related organizations, programs, volunteer/outreach opportunities? 

Currently I am a board member for the Society of Emergency Medicine PAs (SEMPA).  SEMPA’s mission is to advance, protect, and promote the role of EMPAs. The board supports the professional and personal growth of EMPAs through education, advocacy, networking and research. I am completing my second year as a Director at Large and was recently elected as Vice President for the upcoming term.   

7.      What does being a black, male PA mean to you? 

Being a PA means that I have been given an opportunity to care for patients usually during some of their most difficulty and vulnerable times. With this opportunity comes the enormous responsibility to come to work prepared to help them in any way that I can. Black medical professionals are unfortunately underrepresented in every practice setting. I hope I serve as a role model to all prospective PAs, both black and nonblack, to motivate them in their medical pursuits.

8.      What role have you played in making black history?

I’m not sure of my role in black history, but I work to be the best PA and best husband and father that I can be. I just try to live my life to the fullest everyday.

9.      Why is diversity important in the healthcare field?

I think diversity of background, opinion and of experience is vital for our patient population. Familiarity breeds comfort and I think having providers who can understand all of the unique circumstances that our patients encounter is crucial to providing excellent care. 

10.  Can you give an example of how practicing with cultural competency increased the quality of care you provided for a patient?

I have had the chance to work in some pretty diverse communities throughout my career. From my years caring for poorer, mostly minority patients in the Bay Area to currently working in the small, more affluent city of Santa Barbara, I have been fortunate to work with people from all walks of life. I think I’ve been effective in every setting because I try my best to understand the cultural differences and needs of all of my patients.

11.  What can be done to increase the number of African American healthcare providers? Mentorship is a crucial to increase the number of African American providers in healthcare. It is important for young Black boys and girls to see people who look like them working as nurses, doctors, and PAs. The impact of these positive images cannot be overstated. Currently in social media, the hashtag #BlackMenInMedicine has gained popularity to highlight Black male providers and the great care they provide across the country. Initiatives like this definitely encourage increased interests in medicine in our underrepresented communities.

Rosie Holiwell, PA-C

1.       Where did you attend PA school?

I attended Western University in Pomona, California.

2.       What initially attracted you to becoming a PA?

I was initially attracted to becoming a PA because of the positive experience associated with the birth of my son which showed me there is a positive side to medicine, that of giving life. This experience and evaluation, the ability to diagnose and treat patients, and being able to help others contributed to my desire to attend PA school.

Rosie Holiwell, Celebrating Black PAs

3.       Since practicing, what is something that has made you more passionate about being a PA?

Since starting my practice 16 years ago, my passion about being a PA has grown. Early in my PA career I had an African-American, 33-year-old, male patient that complained of unilateral muscle weakness and pain with multiple fluid filled masses on the upper and lower extremities. At the time, I was new to Bakersfield but he presented as a text-book case of Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis). He had been dismissed by several doctors as being in a drunker stupor prior to seeing me. 

4.       What specialty are you currently practicing in?

I am currently practicing in dermatology.

5.       What do you like most about the specialty?

I once thought that Dermatology would be simple, repetitive, or mundane. However, when you think of it, your skin is the largest organ in your body, so when a patient comes in with either severe scarring acne or extensive plaque psoriasis and we are able to create a treatment plan to completely clear their skin, the patient is more than grateful. Work can’t get any better than that! 

6.       Are you involved in any other healthcare related organizations, programs, volunteer/outreach opportunities?

 I enjoy volunteering for various free skin cancer screening clinics around town. I have also done speaking lectures for numerous pharmaceutical companies that I believe in and I am a member/attendee to CAPA, SDPA, KNPPAA, Pri-med. 

7.       What does being a black, female PA mean to you?

Being a black female PA means that I have an opportunity to help and care for others and to make a difference in my patient’s life. I have a chance to serve other people to the best of my abilities using the gifts that were given to me by God. It means respect and pride in my career and the journey I took to get there.

8.       What role have you played in making black history?

I graduated high school as a black 17-year-old female with a two-year-old daughter. I then worked for the same company for 20 years working my way up from a entry level grader to a Product Engineer while raising my daughter. While working I also attended night and weekend-classes to complete my prerequisites for the PA program. With that being said, I feel my role in black history is still in the makings. 

9.       Why is diversity important in the healthcare field?

California is a state with overwhelming diversity, and to be a good healthcare provider you need to incorporate cultural differences into your practice. You have to be able to produce trust and respect with not only your patients but also co-workers.

10.   Can you give an example of how practicing with cultural competency increased the quality of care you provided for a patient?

Understanding the culture of Arabic people when treating them in dermatology setting increases the quality of care. An otherwise healthy 28-year-old female came in with a full Hijab, complaining of hair loss for months. Upon examination, the hair loss was generalized hair thinning. The pull test was negative, scalp was healthy, and no sign of alopecia noted. Labs were ordered, which showed significant vitamin D loss, likely due to the garments the patient wears as she leaves the house. The patient was informed of the results and a plan for treatment was created. The patient was grateful for knowing her diagnosis and the improvement from the treatment.

11.   What can be done to increase the number of African American healthcare providers?

In order to increase the number of African-American providers in healthcare, we first need to recognize and accept the positive benefits afforded by its increase. We need to educate the African-American community on the impact of the increase and provide resources at an early age. This includes preparation for honors classes in high school, emphasizing various subjects in college to maintain a good GPA, and working in the community to give back. We need more mentors for the young and up-and-coming professionals.