Hispanic Heritage Month: Those in UK PA are ‘A Strong Support System’

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

It was time for a second career path, she thought.

And it led her to UK’s Physician Assistant Studies program.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’d like to recognize the journey of 43-year-old current student Diana Delcher, a native of El Salvador who will graduate in 2024.

“My next professional journey as a PA is fueled by my desire for professional growth in caring for people, the vast array of promising career options and my ability to make more impact in people’s lives beyond my current capabilities as a dental hygienist,” Delcher said.

“On this second career path I want to continue nurturing those values as a physician assistant,” she continued. “I have experienced the education in the U.S and I know that it is a valuable one. I have the best support, my family, and I am honored to be part of the Big Blue community.”

While she worked on her bachelor’s degree, she had a part-time job as Spanish-medical interpreter.

“I was immersed in a whole new community in need of medical care, where the language barrier was a primary concern,” she said. “As a dental hygienist I have been able to utilize my bilingual skills. After being in the states for over 20 years, I have seen the Spanish-speaking population grow and I have also experienced the lack of healthcare providers who can speak Spanish — or any other language besides English. In the melting-pot of our community it is crucial that we as future providers can highlight the importance of expanding diversity in our healthcare community. We must remember that even if a patient is fluent in English, they might feel more comfortable with those who know and understand their roots.”

Delcher said that when working with patients, she always thinks of her mother, whose English is limited.

“She always appreciates when someone relates something in Spanish to her — they make her feel special,” Delcher said. “I’m only bilingual Spanish/English but I do try knowing phrases in other languages so I can use them as greeting or comforting words to those whose English is not their first language. It’s my way of building trust with my patients in the dental chair. I will continue my endeavors when I become a PA.”

Once her husband was hired as an associate professor at Kentucky, they decided for Delcher to go back to school.

“Colleagues and former PA graduates had wonderful things to say about the PA program at UK,” she said. “And I was able to witness the great representation of the PA program during my shadowing experiences.”

Even with moving to a new city, and still getting over the effects of the pandemic, Delcher said that with UK’s help, she was able to pursue her dream.

“I wanted to show the PA program that I was the right candidate for their cohort,” she said. “Every professor in the department has the best interest for each of us. The welcome is warm and reassuring that everything is going to be ok — especially in the first semester.”

After moving to America in 2003, Delcher said she has appreciated not only the faculty at UK, but the way her cohort has come together.

“I have noticed the connection that each of the faculty have for each other and that speaks a lot for the program,” she said. “There is cohesiveness and that provides a strong support system for the students.

My classmates are wonderful — we all competed to be part of the cohort 2024 but now we all come together and help each other based on our strengths and weaknesses.”