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FGCU bringing diversity into the classroom for physician assistant students

Posted at 10:50 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 22:50:37-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A viral depiction of a black fetus reveals the need for diversity in medical education.

A study explored medical textbooks and found 4.5 percent of depictions were of darker skin tones.

The Association of Medical Illustrators even said most illustrations depict white males.
“I already knew that when I looked in textbooks, I wasn’t seeing my skin tone as often, so when I saw that, it kind of touched my heart a little bit because I just wanted them wanting to see,"

Keisha Poleon, a physician assistant student at Florida Gulf Coast University, said.

Poleon said FGCU had taken steps to bring diversity into the classroom.

They provide methods for use in clinical skills; they give us models with darker skin tones for us to practice on so that we're prepared we go into the field," she said.

Students in the physician assistant program are given tools like suture pads and simulators with darker skin tones.

That exposure makes you a better provider in general because I've already had that practice. You've seen a variety of different patients before actually interacting with real ones," Sabreen Yousef, a physician assistant student at Florida Gulf Coast University, said.

Real patients medical professionals will have to treat.

“There are some people who just never lived in a very diverse population, and the first time they do see someone of a different skin color, culture, or background is in practice, and that's not acceptable," Agnes Fuerst, a physician assistant student at Florida Gulf Coast University, said.

She said it's not acceptable because medical professionals will run into various skin colors in their practice. Fuerst said things like rashes present differently in darker skin tones.

"Someone with a darker complexion, you might not see red as brightly and rather than just a color, you might see a little bit of a texture change, but that might be overlooked because you're not seeing like bright red blotches," Fuerst said.

She said red blotches that would show in a lighter skin tone. That's why students at FGCU are using a variety of skin tones to make sure they are prepared to care for their patients.