Orlando Physician Assistant Earns National Scholarship Dedicated to Reducing Health Disparities and Diversifying Workforce

May 14, 2022 at 12:02 am by pj

 Health Equity Achieved Through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) scholarships support a diverse health care workforce committed to improving health equity.


The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) has named, Alyssa Hernandez Pena, PA-C, of Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates, one of 26 recipients of Health Equity Achieved Through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) scholarships that support lifestyle medicine leaders who are working to reduce health disparities in historically underserved communities.

HEAL scholarships provide financial support for recipients to attain education and certification in lifestyle medicine and help them build relationships in the field that lead to an exchange of ideas and innovations to create health equity solutions. They also support diversification of the lifestyle medicine clinician workforce.

More than 60% of the U.S. adult population and 25% of children have at least one chronic disease. Chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes disproportionately affect vulnerable populations such as Black and Latino communities. Moreover, in communities with decreased access to health care, healthy foods, and strong educational and economic opportunities, people often must overcome significant barriers to make evidenced-based healthy lifestyle choices that are proven to prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic diseases.

“For many chronic diseases, medical guidelines recommend addressing lifestyle as a first treatment option, but far too many medical professionals lack the knowledge and training to help patients make lifestyle interventions successfully or fail to recognize the social determinants that make those lifestyle changes difficult to achieve for patients,” said ACLM President Cate Collings, MD, MS, FACC, DipABLM. “The 2022 class of HEAL scholarship recipients represent a diverse health care workforce who understand those challenges and are motivated to become certified in lifestyle medicine to educate, empower and encourage the communities they serve. We are proud to support these future lifestyle medicine leaders.”

ACLM founded the HEAL initiative to promote heath equity through lifestyle medicine. Scholarship recipients receive one-year membership in ACLM, registration and travel stipend for the organization’s annual conference and American Board of Lifestyle Medicine exam registration. HEAL scholarships are made possible through grant support from the Ardmore Institute of Health, the Martin Family Foundation and other generous supporters. ACLM will accept applications for the next class of HEAL scholars in early 2023.

Sections: Grand Rounds