PA community urges Connecticut DOJ to investigate discrimination claims within program

Katie Langley, News Editor

A group of current and former Quinnipiac University physician assistant students and their families published a letter May 13, urging the Department of Justice to investigate discrimination claims in the program. 

The letter was addressed to Chief of the Civil Division’s Defensive Unit Michelle McConaghy of the Connecticut US attorney’s office. The authors wrote that the environment of the program is taxing on students’ mental health and that the measures in place to protect students with disabilities, such as disciplinary committees, punish students rather than helping them. They said students who disclose mental health issues are “singled out” by the program’s faculty. 

They also alleged that when students request formal accommodations, the program “disregards the recommendations of qualified experts or providers” who have evaluated the student, and instead the program gives the student “minimum standard accommodations.”

“The discriminatory treatment, including the culture of mental health stigma created by the PA faculty, has been a destructive force for these students and their families, penalizing them with immense student debt and loss of career upon their dismissal,” the letter said. 

In the statement, the group cited two of The Chronicle’s previous articles: the first about former PA student Alexandra Faulkner’s lawsuit against Quinnipiac which claims that the program dismissed her in part because of prejudices against her mental disability and Ukrainian background. The second article mentioned in the letter was concerning mental health within the PA program.

The university did not comment on Faulkner’s pending lawsuit.

In a previous statement to The Chronicle, Dean of School of Health Sciences Janelle Chiasera said she and Chair of PA Studies Tim Ferrarotti “always want to hear from students, whether it’s to share feedback, concerns or ideas on how to enhance their learning experience.”

“Quinnipiac’s PA program is committed to giving all of its students the support they need and delivering a high-quality academic experience and clinical training that will position them to be exemplary PAs and PA leaders upon successful completion of the program,” Chiasera said.