Howard Straker, EdD, MPH, PA-C, has dedicated his career to a life of service to his patients, his community, and his students. As a certified PA, Dr. Straker has practiced in a multitude of settings including correctional, family medicine, emergency, and adolescent medicine in New York, Alaska, North Carolina, and Maryland. He has served as a faculty member at several PA programs across the United States (City University of New York Harlem Hospital, MEDEX NW, and Howard University), before arriving at George Washington University where he is now the Director of the PA/MPH program and an assistant professor of PA Studies and Prevention and Community Health.
Dr. Straker grew up in New York City in an area that was medically underserved. He became interested in medicine when he was a child after witnessing his friend’s sister become injured by a car. The incident left him with a desire to learn first aid, so he would not be helpless in similar situations in the future. This passion to help followed him through college where he joined the volunteer ambulance course. After getting his Bachelor of Arts degree in Rhetoric and Communications from State University of New York – Albany (1982), he realized his real passion lay in healthcare. He accepted a position as a nursing assistant where he learned about the PA profession.
Dr. Straker received his Physician Associate Professional Certificate from Yale University School of Medicine (1986). He later attained his Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1997), a Master Teacher Medical Education Certificate from George Washington University School of Education (2006), and his Doctorate of Education from the George Washington University School Graduate School of Education and Human Development (2018).
Since becoming a PA, Dr. Straker has been an advocate for his profession. He has an active history of service to PA organizations, including being the first student appointed to the AAPA committee, chairing the Minority Affairs committees of both AAPA and PAEA, and taking part in numerous taskforces for both organizations. He has been a site visitor for the ARC-PA and an editorial board member for the Journal of the American Academy of PAs. He is the current President of the PAEA Board of Directors. He is a member of the District of Columbia Academy of PAs, where he served as President. He is also a member of the Society of Primary Care Policy Fellows, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, and the American Public Health Association.
Dr. Straker’s other accomplishments include establishing an adolescent clinic and peer educator program in the Brownsville Multi Service Family Health Center in Brooklyn, NY; working with several grassroots community organizations in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help 9th Ward residents hold onto their homes and reopen schools; and organizing events for college and gradate students to give back to their communities.
Dr. Straker has one daughter; she is an emergency medicine physician in New York City. Dr. Straker is married to physician assistant Dr. Jacqueline Barnett, Director of the Duke University PA Program.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Michelle Schabowski, with the assistance of Dr. Howard Straker, and was submitted to the Society in March 2020. Photographs were provided courtesy of Dr. Straker and PAEA.