Improving racial and ethnic diversity in the physician assistant (PA) profession is important to providing better care for underserved communities. The recruitment and retention of minority PA faculty is one aspect of helping to attract and retain a more diverse student body. Previous research has indicated that minority status is associated with the increased attrition of PA faculty but has not provided insight into the specific factors involved in the retention or attrition of minority PA faculty. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to describe the experience of minority PA faculty through a critical race theory lens. We used a phenomenological approach using structured interviews of minority PA faculty. Better understanding of the experience of minority PA faculty might lead to improved efforts at recruiting and supporting a more diverse faculty workforce. We conducted 13 interviews of PA faculty representing a variety of underrepresented minorities, geographic regions, types of schools, and stages of their careers. Major themes that emerged across the participants' experiences included opportunities for success in the form of both internal and external support systems and mentorship. As a corollary, barriers to the retention of minority PA faculty including a lack of institutional support, gaps in mentorship, and lack of a solid support network were cited.
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