The recipients of the PAEA Board of Director’s new research grant program have been chosen. For this inaugural year, the board designated $50,000 to support research that aims to identify factors that minimize real or perceived barriers to clinical training of PA students through educational or other interventions.
“Finding adequate clinical sites is of significant concern for many, if not the majority, of PA programs,” said PAEA’s Head of Research Tony Miller, MEd, PA-C. “The board recognized that funding research is one important way we can tackle the problem.”
One grant was awarded to Principal Investigator Timothy Evans, MD, PhD, of MEDEX Northwest in Seattle. His co-investigators are Keren Wick, PhD, also from MEDEX, and Steven Skaggs, MPAS, PA-C, and Tiffani Burgin, MPAS, PA-C, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Evans and his team will develop a two-fold pilot program. First they’ll observe 24 preceptors to measure how students affect their productivity. They’ll do this by evaluating the preceptor’s efficiency before the student arrives, early in the student’s rotation, and toward the end of the student’s rotation.
During the second part of the study, the researchers will interview the preceptors to identify best practices. They’ll then develop materials to inform recruitment, orientation, and training of future preceptors.
“There’s a belief that preceptors’ productivity takes a hit, but no one, to my knowledge, has actually gone out and measured it [in any health care field],” Evans said. “If there is a decrease in productivity, we want to know how big it is and then what is different in the precepting practice of those who do suffer a productivity decrease and those who don’t.”
Evans said he’s had this research idea for years but has had difficulty securing funding. “We certainly couldn’t have done it in exactly the way we’re going to do it [without this grant],” he added.
A second grant was awarded to Principal Investigator Mitzi D’Aquila, MACM, PA-C, and Co-Investigators Desiree Lie, MD, MSED, Janice Tramel, MS-HPE, PA-C, and Sabba Quidwai, MA, from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
D’Aquila and her team will create a multimedia, web-based presentation addressing key knowledge gaps about precepting PA students. They will target potential clinician preceptors and then assess the presentation’s impact on those clinicians’ attitudes toward precepting.
“Though [we’ve] had continuing discussions regarding what methods could be used to improve our effectiveness in the recruitment of preceptors, it was the grant announcement that stimulated a more active discussion about what could be implemented and how we might take advantage of current technology,” D’Aquila said.
PAEA’s board has re-established funding for next year, but the research topic has yet to be determined.