Karen A. Wright, PhD, PA-C, was named assistant dean for student life and academic support of health sciences at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). Wright is an assistant professor and interim chair of the Department of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies and the PA program director.
In this new role, Wright will direct high quality academic support services for a diverse community of health sciences students and advance new student life initiatives. She will develop and implement new programs and activities in collaboration with other school faculty to foster student academic success, personal growth, and professional development. Wright will also engage in research and scholarly activities related to student experience across cognitive and non-cognitive areas, including culture of diversity and inclusion, wellness, and community engagement. As assistant dean for student life and academic support, she will also work in collaboration with the associate dean for academic planning and assessment in health sciences to design individualized programs for a diverse community of students from residential to online students, and those in partnership programs with the U.S. military.
"I have personally observed Dr. Wright support students through personal challenges and provide the kind of mentoring that is critical to shaping future health care professionals," said Reamer Bushardt, PharmD, PA-C, DFAAPA, senior associate dean for health sciences, and professor of PA studies. "I am excited to see her infuse her passion for students and her rich experience as a mentor and counselor into her new work as assistant dean." Wright will be visiting several other university programs considered exemplars in cognitive skill development and academic excellence services as she constructs a model for GW's health sciences programs. She will also partner with GW colleagues in medical education to leverage opportunities for joint programming and interprofessional initiatives.
Wright's work in education spans over 20 years, including time spent at GW since 2008, and previously at Howard University. She will continue to lead the GW PA Program, which she has done since 2015. Prior to her academic career, she held positions as a PA at PHP Healthcare Corporation, Greater Baltimore Medical Center Agency, Inc., and United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home. She is widely published in scholarly journals on the subject of PA education, including contributions in two textbooks used in PA education. Wright presents regularly at national and regional conferences, speaking on education and health equity.
"I am honored to have been so highly considered for this role by my colleagues and the leadership at SMHS. I am looking forward to working with students and assisting in their academic and professional development," Wright said of the appointment.
Wright serves on several academic committees at GW. She is also a member of several professional associations and has held leadership roles, including her recent appointment as the medical liaison between the American Academy of Physician Assistants and National Association of Medical Minority Educators, Inc.
She received her PhD in sociology from Howard University, her MS in health services administration from Central Michigan University, and her BS after completing PA training at Howard University.
Wright began her new role in May 2017.