LMU PA students Long, Gipson are national leaders

Nikki LockhartOur Town Health, Our Town Leaders

Kayla Long, LMU physician assistant student, class of 2023, has been named to the board of directors of PA Students for Leadership, Equity, Anti-racism and Diversity, a student-run organization that advocates for diversity and serves PA and pre-PA students all over the nation.

Long’s goal, as the campus’s Diversity Committee representative, has been to “raise awareness about how a patient’s culture impacts their health care decisions.”

A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Long attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with minors in neuroscience and Spanish for the health professions.

She says there is something beautiful about accompanying someone on their healing journey when they are encountering a physical or emotional hardship. “I want to support my patients through their struggles, celebrate their victories, and make them feel understood even if we do not share a similar culture or life experience. I want to promote access to culturally competent care, increase accessibility to PA education and improve the educational experience for PA students.”

Long hopes to practice in or near the Research Triangle after graduation.

Her advice to someone considering becoming a PA is to learn as much as possible during shadowing or work experience and to ask the providers in these environments as many questions as possible.

“The more stories you can tell about a patient, family member or friend, the easier it will be to remember the symptoms, pathology, diagnosis and treatment of that condition during school and clinical practice.”

Kierra Gipson, LMU physician assistant student, class of 2023, is the 2022 American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) president-elect for the Student Academy board of directors.

In her first year as a PA student, Gipson was elected as an AAPA Student Academy Representative (SAR) and AAPA House of Delegates student delegate.

“Through that work, I was hit even more with the advocacy bug with my main focus being diversity,” Gipson said. “I wanted to do more and make impactful change for students especially surrounding diversity in the PA profession.”

She will transition into the role of president-elect July 2022 and continue as president in July 2023.

“I knew running for president-elect would force me to step outside of my comfort zone even more because if I wanted to help students, I had to get to know them and understand the struggles they are going through,” Gipson said. “To do that on a national level is definitely a huge challenge but one that I welcome with excitement.”

Gipson, of Frisco, Texas, earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from East Carolina University and a master’s in biomedical science from LMU.

“PA school is hard, but I have never learned so much in such a short amount of time. It is exciting and incredibly rewarding.”

Gipson credits her mother, Sharon Gipson, and dad, Kenneth Gipson, for being strong individuals and teaching her that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

“I wouldn’t keep reaching for the stars without their constant love and support.”

Nikki Lockhart is director of public relations at LMU.


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