Henderson Prioritizes Diversity and Inclusion as Physician Assistant Program Director
By Rikki Rosenthal
Joy Henderson, MMS, PA-C, is the newly appointed Physician Assistant (PA) Program Director for the Glenside and Delaware campuses. Through her new position, she hopes to embrace Arcadia’s rich history and build a stronger and more inclusive undergraduate base to help students succeed within the PA profession.
“Having diversity within the PA Program is so important,” said Henderson. “Representation is everything and having that diversity established within our program shows students of any background that they can do this and be successful.”
After earning her undergraduate degree in elementary education from the University of North Florida, Henderson taught for a brief period before starting her family. She was a stay at home mother for 10 years before deciding to pursue a PA career.
“I had a mini midlife crisis and began questioning what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” said Henderson. “My husband asked me if I could do anything, what would I do? The first thing I thought of was medical school. Of course, we had kids we were about to put through college, so that wasn’t really an option. I started thinking about nursing school. But then, I ran into the director of my son’s preschool, who’s daughter was a PA. At the time I had no idea what a PA was or even did. After meeting with her daughter, I immediately enrolled in classes and my second career as a PA began.”
Henderson attended Salus University’s PA Program and graduated in 2010; she worked in family practice after graduating. She joined the faculty at Salus University in 2013 and became Interim Program Director. She left Salus for the Jefferson Center City PA Program, where she was an associate director for five years.
Henderson heard about the position at Arcadia through her connection with her former professor Mike Huber and with Renee Langstaff; the three worked together in 2016 during Arcadia’s Medical Service Trip to Nicaragua.
“That just kind of became my circle. Life is like a venn diagram in that way, in that you never know what or who will intersect,” said Henderson.
Henderson notes that with education and health care changing significantly over the years, the PA’s job is to remain innovative and flexible.
“I would love to see more diversity and inclusion in our program,” said Henderson. “We can’t expect students to come into our program with a high GPA and the experience if they aren’t aware of the requirements before they graduate high school or complete their undergraduate degree. This is an enormous challenge in the healthcare industry across the board, no matter what the discipline or medical focus, and we need to be reaching out to potential healthcare providers sooner. The best thing we can do for our students is to create strong candidates for PA school by having a strong undergraduate program and a reputation that our students can be successful wherever they decide to go, that is a legacy I would love to leave behind.”