Black History Month – a physician associate student’s story

Taneil Lee is a first year physician associate (PA) student at Newcastle University. Here, she shares her PA journey so far and, as a Black woman, what diversity means to her.

What is your background and why did you decide to study to become a physician associate?

Taneli Lee

I was born in Jamaica but raised in the Cayman Islands, and I identify as Afro-Caribbean. I believe my culture has shaped me into an open-minded, resilient and hardworking individual. Besides my love for medicine, the lateral mobility and excellent work-life balance of the PA role helped me to make my decision. Becoming a PA is all about fostering change.

I want to advocate for my future patients, including patients of colour who may have experienced medical racism in the past. I think it is essential that there is more representation in medicine. By sharing my PA journey, I hope to encourage more people to enter the profession, especially those of colour. 

What does diversity mean to you, as a PA student?

To me diversity is crucial because all backgrounds, beliefs and ethnicities need to be correctly represented. Diversity helps promote equal representation, and this also helps patients receive the best care no matter their walk of life. Diversity in medicine also promotes empathy and understanding, allowing patients to feel more comfortable and trust their providers.

What is your proudest achievement as a student PA and what would you like to achieve in the future?

Taneli Lee

The proudest moment of my PA journey so far is being awarded a full academic scholarship. This scholarship has allowed me to continue chasing my dream of becoming a PA and has removed the pressure of any financial stress. I am so grateful that all my previous academic and volunteer accomplishments have paid off and helped me to achieve this scholarship. Upon qualifying as a PA, I would like to work in obstetrics and gynaecology. I also hope to start mentoring prospective PA students, especially those of colour or those who experience socio-economic hardship. Getting into PA school is hard work, so I would love to make it easier and thus help the PA profession to grow.

To anyone thinking about applying to PA school – do it! You will meet some fantastic people from your course and you will grow academically and personally. I am looking forward to a rewarding career as a PA following qualification.