Skip to main content

PA student joins national diversity and inclusion group’s board

Bryan Marcel Bilbao, a graduate student in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s physician assistant studies major, was recently selected as a director for Physician Assistant Students for Leadership, Equity, Anti-Racism and Diversity.

The national organization, known by its initials, PA-S LEAD, began as a group of PA students of color and their allies. Its goal is to forge connections among underrepresented minority PA students and other diversity-minded PA student leaders to share resources, experience and support.

“I joined PA-S Lead in honor of my late grandmother Italia Cusati, grandfather Guiseppe Cusati and mother, Silvia Cusati,” Bilbao, of Old Forge, said. “Seeing how certain health care services were radically different for those who were non-English speaking and of different backgrounds was astonishing to me. I always vowed that, when I was able to have my voice heard with my passion in medicine, I would publicly address these issues and do what I can so minorities and many other groups will never feel that way in a setting where they should be comfortable, since they are coming in for a problem that is distressing them.”

Bryan Marcel Bilbao, of Old Forge, a graduate student in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s physician assistant studies major, has been selected as a director for the national organization Physician Assistant Students for Leadership, Equity, Anti-Racism and Diversity (PA-S LEAD).
Bryan Marcel Bilbao, of Old Forge, a graduate student in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s physician assistant studies major, has been selected as a director for the national organization Physician Assistant Students for Leadership, Equity, Anti-Racism and Diversity (PA-S LEAD).

As a member of the PA-S LEAD Board of Directors, Bilbao helps to promote the group and its goals of helping those of various racial and ethnic backgrounds to enter physician assistant programs and serving as a resource for those who have questions or struggles throughout the physician assistant education process, as well as for those in practice as they strive to provide culturally competent care.

The group’s platform frequently provides information on culturally competent care and ways to raise awareness about various topics, as well as a group chat for members to speak about anything, including problems that participants sometimes collaborate to solve.

“I have learned some harsh realities while joining this group – such as only 3.3% of PAs nationwide identify as Black or African American,” Bilbao said.

To help engender an inclusive environment in the physician assistant field, Bilbao explains:

“As all things in life, and as my father would say teaching me soccer, ‘It’s all about fundamentals.’ From the faculty and program directors up, everyone should be educated on proper terminology, ways to speak to those who may be hearing impaired or have a language barrier, and how to treat those of different cultural or religious practices.”

He suggests wider implementation of medical language classes that teach fundamental terms in common languages, including American Sign Language, and medical ethics courses, like the one offered to Penn College physician assistant studies students.

“The faculty in our program were nothing but phenomenal, even outside that class, by allowing open group discussions, having a section on LGBTQ+ health, and offering a warm and comfortable environment when we talked about difficult things or decisions as future providers,” he said.

“I believe, aside from my own personal goals, the faculty in our program have helped nurture me to becoming the future culturally sensitive and respectful provider I want to be,” Bilbao added.

Before pursuing his physician assistant degree at Penn College, Bilbao earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wilkes University and worked for three years as a crisis clinician at the Crisis Response and Recovery Center at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

He expects to graduate from Penn College in August with a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree in physician assistant studies.

To learn more about physician assistant studies at Penn College, call 570-327-4519.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Subscribe to PCToday Daily Email