The numbers speak for themselves. According to America’s Health Rankings for 2017, Kentucky ranks 47th among the 50 states in health – related behaviors. Specifically, we’re 49th in smoking and drug deaths, 46th in physical inactivity, and 44th in obesity. More alarming to me is the fact that we are rated 44th in a composite score for Clinical Care and we are dead last (50/50) in preventable hospitalizations. Given these facts, the disease numbers should not come as a surprise: we lead the nation in cancer death, we’re 44th in heart-related death, we’re 46th in diabetes, and we’re 47th in overall premature death. Clearly, there is much work to do.
Everyone involved in healthcare and especially those of us who are training the next generation of healthcare providers must own these numbers and recognize that it is our duty to address this crisis in our state. The causes are many and often deep-rooted. They involve biology, psychology, and social circumstance. They vary in different communities across the state and are not easily solved.
The University of Kentucky Physician Assistant Studies Program is determined to make a positive impact on our state. We are looking for students who share that same passion. We want to attract students who do not accept Kentucky’s current health ranking, students who can gain the knowledge and develop the skills necessary to work with people to improve lives and communities, students who understand the power of an individual connection with another person, and students who have the mindset and resiliency to complete a very challenging program in preparation for an even more challenging career.
Our vision is a well Kentucky. Given the current numbers, that might seem far-fetched. It certainly is a challenge, but it’s a challenge worth accepting. If this interests you (and I mean really gets your blood pumping), we would love to talk to you more.
W. Scott Black, MD