PAEA’s annual Faculty and Staff Awards are a chance to recognize and celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our colleagues across the spectrum of PA education. The hard work and dedication of educators, programs, and organizations like these ensures that PA education continues to flourish.
Here are the winners of the 2019 PAEA Awards — congratulations to all of you for your accomplishments!
Article of the Year
“Intermediate Diabetes Outcomes in Patients Managed by Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, or Physician Assistants: A Cohort Study”
Lead Author: George Jackson, PhD, MHA
This year’s article of the year is “Intermediate Diabetes Outcomes in Patients Managed by Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, or Physician Assistants: A Cohort Study” by George Jackson, PhD, MHA, and colleagues, published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
An interdisciplinary team of authors from the Durham Veterans Affairs Healthcare System and Duke University, including the Duke PA program, collaborated to study whether provider type has an impact on intermediate diabetes outcomes.
The team found no clinically significant variation among the physicians, PAs, or NPs with regard to diabetes outcomes. Ultimately, this suggests that similar chronic illness outcomes may be achieved by any of those health professionals.
Jacqueline Barnett, DHSC, MSHS, PA-C, program director and associate professor at the Duke PA program said, “This paper has already had an early impact and is the most rigorous and comprehensive research that I have read validating the value of PAs and NPs on the primary care health care team.”
James Van Rhee, MS, PA-C
According to his colleague Eric Vangsnes, PhD, PA-C, Jim Van Rhee is “driven by a life-long vision to improve PA education” — a statement supported by the extensive, seminal research he has contributed to during his career.
Much of Jim’s research has been focused on problem-based learning. Aided by two HRSA grants, he and his colleagues compared problem-based curricula to lecture-based curricula, leading to the publication of numerous research articles based on their findings. His research has allowed PA programs nationwide to implement problem-based learning using evidence to support large-scale curriculum modifications.
Now, Jim is using the knowledge he has amassed to lead the Yale School of Medicine Online PA Program as program director, where he is lauded by his colleagues for his ability to serve as a mentor for budding researchers — both students and faculty alike.
His colleague Stephanie Neary, MPA, MMSc, PA-C, summed up his approach to leadership in research: “Jim has a way of making every member of the team feel valued while challenging them to still grow as both an individual and a researcher.”
Excellence Through Diversity
Northern Arizona University
From its inception, the Northern Arizona University PA program has emphasized preparing graduates to practice in diverse, underserved, and rural settings throughout the state.
For the past seven years, they have matriculated classes comprised of more than 60 percent of students who identify as disadvantaged. The program is especially dedicated to promoting the enrollment and success of Native American students, and does this through recruitment campaigns, Indian Health Services scholarships, and incentive programs.
Their curriculum includes diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ issues, and implicit bias, and students serve many of their clinical rotations in rural and underserved areas or at Indian Health Services or tribally affiliated clinical sites.
The program actively builds a diverse pipeline of future PA students. The Native Journey to Academic Success Program is one such initiative, one that also helps ensure that the needs of Native American students are met by providing cultural awareness training for faculty, staff, and students.
Former faculty member Danielle Kempton, DHSc, MMS, PA-C, notes, “NAU’s mission and success in meeting their diversity goals has served as a model for myself and colleagues in designing our admissions, outreach, recruitment, and retention strategies.”
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
For nearly five decades, the partnership between the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) and the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) has thrived.
The resources MEDVAMC provided in the program’s early years were instrumental to its sustainability. It was the first academic partner supportive of PA education in Houston, serving as the original didactic and clinical training site and housing the Baylor PA program’s administrative offices at its inception in 1971. Students completed clinical rotations there, while MEDVAMC’s basic scientists and clinical faculty taught in the didactic phase of the curriculum.
Today, MEDVAMC is one of the largest employers of PAs in Houston, many of whom are Baylor graduates. Their PAs and MDs provide didactic instruction in the clinical medicine course, and MEDVAMC itself hosts many rotations for students from several Texas-based programs. BCM PA Program Director Katherine Erdman, MPAS, PA-C, said that through the years, the Center has never wavered in its commitment to PA education, and for that reason, they are truly deserving of this award.
Craig Myers, MSHS, PA-C
Case Western Reserve University
In the two years that he has been with the Case Western Reserve University PA program, Craig Myers has made an incredible impact on the program’s clinical curriculum.
Craig has increased the program’s clinical sites by more than 25 percent, even as the class size increased. He oversees and develops sites for their unique pre-clinical clerkship program — the only one in Ohio — a six-month longitudinal experience where didactic students are placed in a clinical site to help build confidence with skills. He checks in with preceptors frequently to encourage them and get their feedback, then uses that feedback to improve processes, the learning experience, and evaluations.
When he’s not teaching, in the clinic, or volunteering, Craig can be found coaching students on how to maximize their clinical experience. He goes out of his way to make himself available to motivate and advise students — and support them in any way they might need.
Colleague and former student Desiree Palumbo, MPAS, PA-C, said, “He is genuine, dependable, extremely dedicated, and incredibly hard-working — an extraordinary professor.”
Administrative Support Staff
Heather Salinas, BS
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Having started as education assistant for the UT Southwestern PA program, Heather Salinas now serves as senior program coordinator, where she has a positive impact on nearly every aspect of the program.
Heather single-handedly built a job fair that grew from a few vendors to more than 50, and has helped match dozens of prospective employers with new PA graduates. She led the implementation and enhancement of Exaat to aid the collection and analysis of data critical to ongoing accreditation and self-assessment. Exaat then selected her to present the program’s implementation strategy at their annual conference.UT Southwestern participates in a project to expand the number of students in each class to increase primary care in medically underserved areas. Heather was lauded by the project’s leadership for skillfully placing 26 PAs in such settings and continues to manage the project.
Colleague Temple Howell-Stampley, MD, MBA, FACP, said, “Heather is a critical member of our team. She has an amazing work ethic and, regardless of the circumstances, always approaches her work with positivity and without hesitation.
New Faculty Award for Professional Excellence
Breann Garbas, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C
University of Florida
Although it was meant to be just an introduction to how the University of Florida PA program organized and delivered course content, Breann Garbas came in and hit the ground running by evaluating and re-designing it.
Since then, she has taken on curriculum mapping and created extensive case-based lessons for a Women’s Health course. Her work has resulted in increased PACKRAT and PANCE scores in the Reproductive section. She helped design a way for lab sessions to be interlaced, allowing for smaller group settings and reducing wasted time in students’ crowded schedules. In response to these changes, the class of 2018 named her Outstanding Academic Instructor.
Breann’s work precepting at the student-run Equal Access Clinic has boosted student participation and raised the reputation of PAs in the community, earning her the clinic’s 2018 Faculty Service Award — the first PA to receive it.
Colleague Jason Fromm, MD, said, “There is little within our program that Breann has not improved. She is a respected teacher, a trusted representative of our program and profession.”
Joshua Merson, MPAS, MS-HPEd, PA-C
MGH Institute of Health Professions
Since first joining the MGH Institute of Health Professions PA program, Josh Merson has been an invaluable member of the faculty.
In his first year, Josh was tasked with developing the year-long Patient Care course, then monitoring the course to make adjustments along the way — enhancing both student experiences and outcomes. Using what he learned from earning a master’s degree in health professions education, simulations design, and assessment, he has worked to innovate a series of laboratory and OSCE assessments that validate the abilities of students throughout the curriculum.
Josh is credited with single-handedly establishing the program’s student governance and mentored the program’s first group of students in the state and national challenge bowl. By taking part in the PA Student Society, he serves as a role model for students to take on leadership positions, become involved in their community, and embody the PA mission.
Colleague Lisa Walker, MPAS, PA-C said, “He is by far one of the finest faculty colleagues and the most enthusiastic life-long learner I’ve known in my 20+ years in PA education.”
Jennifer Snyder, PhD, MPAS, PA-C
With few exceptions, Jennifer Snyder has taught or shared teaching for virtually every course in the curriculum of the Butler University PA program. This level of teaching is remarkable, and demonstrates tremendous flexibility and range, in addition to her dedication to the program.
When the Butler PA program underwent a major change in curriculum and transitioned from a three-year to a two-year postgraduate program, she worked tirelessly to ensure the transition went seamlessly.
In addition to Jennifer’s program work and her wealth of university, state, and national volunteer leadership work, student support is a major priority for her. Every student is given her cell phone number and encouraged to call her at any time if they need to — and most do.
Her faculty say that she is always encouraging her colleagues to do more, and several have been inspired to take on more service because of her example and leadership. Former student-turned-colleague Jennifer Guthrie, MPAS, PA-C, said, “We are all better educators because of the example and leadership she embodied during the most challenging of times.”
Donna Agnew, MSPAS, PA-C
According to her colleagues, Donna Agnew derives the greatest personal joy from the successes of her faculty — and does everything she can to ensure that success.
Donna personally mentors new program faculty on basic teaching skills, such as lecture development and delivery and student mentoring. Her colleagues appreciate her ability to give constructive feedback that makes them want to improve, and many of her mentees have gone on to hold leadership positions at programs across the country.
She actively seeks professional development opportunities for each of her faculty, and encourages them to apply for state and national volunteer leadership opportunities. She has also worked to secure funding for multiple staff to pursue advanced degrees.
While Donna supports her faculty in all of their endeavors, she also ensures that they get the credit. She once said, “Sometimes the best thing I can do is to get out of my faculty’s way.” One of her mentees, Anne Wildermuth, MMS, PA-C, agrees: “This is what true leaders do. They give others wings, teach them how to fly, and serve in a guiding role as needed.”
Reginald Carter, PhD, MS, PA
Physician Assistant History Society
“The journey of the PA profession began with the steps of people like Reggie Carter.” These words from Cynthia Booth Lord, MHS, PA-C, are evident as one begins to look back at his career.
After joining Duke University as a research fellow in 1971, he became interested in the PA concept and the value of placing graduates in medically underserved communities. A year later, he accepted the position of associate program director at Duke’s PA program, where he also earned his own PA certificate in 1978. He later served as division chief for PA education at Duke, and then in the PA program’s alumni affairs office and the Office for PA History — before his retirement from Duke in 2004.
Over his career, Reggie has served in countless volunteer leadership positions, including at each of the Four Orgs. He served on the editorial boards and multiple committees of AAPA and APAP, now PAEA, and also as president of PAEA, where he attained grants to fund the first PA workforce studies. Reggie also served as a member of the NCCPA Board of Directors, where he helped usher in computer-based testing, and as a site visitor for the ARC-PA.
Wanting to make sure that the history of the profession would be preserved for future generations, Reggie created the PA History Office at Duke in 2001, and then co-founded the PA History Society in 2002, for which he then served as the executive director and historian. Under his leadership, the Society developed their Educational Toolkit for faculty to use when teaching the history of the profession. He also initiated their partnership with the National Library of Medicine to develop the colorful and informative PA profession traveling banner exhibition and educational online curriculum in recognition of the PA profession’s 50th anniversary. And it was his suggestion that they create a Veterans memorial garden dedicated to military and uniformed services PAs to honor those brave men and women.
Colleague Debi Gerbert, MS, PA-C, said, “Reggie Carter’s achievements and contributions will continue to have a long-lasting and significant impact on the PA profession for future generations to come.”