What once seemed an impossible dream— Coachella Valley students making their way into medical school— may soon become a regular reality thanks in part to efforts of OneFuture Coachella Valley’s Physician Assistant Pipeline Alignment Team. The team recently launched with leadership from UC Davis, USC, and local physician assistant (PA) professionals to prepare students to become PAs, one of the fastest-growing health care careers. 

PAs are medical providers who diagnose, develop, and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal health care professional. The demand for PAs increased more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014 and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the profession will increase another 31 percent from 2018 to 2028.  

OneFuture’s PA Pipeline A-Team is concurrently aiming to inspire student interest, provide exposure and career exploration, and address barriers within the admission process for students of color. The team’s goal is to develop a cohort of future providers who understand the cultural, economic, and health care disparity landscape of the Coachella Valley and who will return to provide high-quality, holistic, and compassionate health care for local patients. 

Isabel Zamora is a graduate student who lives in the valley and aspires to become a PA. She helped launch the PA Pipeline team and is pursuing PA program admission. She graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Public Health, was an OFCV/Health Career Connection intern at Pueblo Unido and currently works as a case manager for an agency serving the homeless population. Her goal is to become a PA and serve homeless residents in the valley. 

Guadalupe Arreola also aims to be a PA. She lives in the Eastern Coachella Valley, graduated high school from Desert Mirage and understands first-hand what is needed. “Many of the people in my community oftentimes feel like they don’t have a health system they can count on for various reasons such as distance, high healthcare costs, and language barriers. All these factors make it difficult for my Latinx community to navigate the healthcare system. By being a PA, I want to ensure that my community and other minorities have access to a health care system they can count on.” 

After successfully graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles and beginning her health care career as an ER patient admitting specialist at Eisenhower Health, Arreola is pursuing admission to a PA program. “I am determined to find ways to continue and to achieve my educational goal of being a PA for my community.”

Physician assistants practicing in the Coachella Valley are invited to join this OneFuture program. Contact Kim McNulty at [email protected] or call (760) 413.5990. For more information, visit www.OneFutureCV.org.

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