2017 STAR Researchers Launching into Orbit

PAEA is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 Support to Advance Research (STAR) program: James Stoehr, PhD, a professor at Midwestern University–Glendale, and Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, clinical associate professor at the School for the Science of Health Care Delivery at Arizona State University.

Each year, PAEA’s STAR program allows a PA program faculty member to submit up to 10 questions for inclusion in the annual Program Survey, which is administered to all PAEA member program directors.

This year, the competition was even steeper than usual — we received more than double the number of applications that we did last year. Winners were chosen by our Research Council via a blind peer review process, using reviewers experienced in survey-based research.

We had the chance to sit down with Stoehr and Coplan to chat about their research and how it will benefit the PA community.

What are the objectives of your research and the anticipated impacts on the field of PA education?

Our main objective is to examine the extent to which PA programs use holistic admissions practices (which involve balanced consideration of academic and non-academic criteria) to increase diversity among PA students. We also want to gain some insight into the impact that holistic admissions practices have had on the programs that use them. Our hope is that our results will assist efforts to reverse the trend of declining proportions of underrepresented minority students entering PA programs, as well as inform strategies to ensure that PA students represent a wide range of diverse backgrounds.

Why are holistic admissions processes relevant and important today?

In recent years, the PA profession (among others) has had difficulty matriculating proportions of underrepresented minority students reflective of the populations we serve. In fact, as previously mentioned, the percentage of underrepresented minorities in PA programs is declining. Holistic admissions or “holistic review” is important because it is one of the few strategies shown to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in health professions programs. We think that most PA programs probably utilize components of holistic review to some degree, but the processes may not be intentional or well-developed and therefore may not be significantly contributing to increasing student diversity. In addition, we can learn from programs that are effectively using holistic review.

How will your research benefit from your being selected as this year’s STAR Program winner?

As PA educators, we are interested in — and our research has largely focused on — issues that affect PAs. With the STAR program, PAEA has given us a really great opportunity to continue to do work that we hope will benefit PA education and practice. The ability to obtain information from PA programs across the country also increases the potential for our research to have broad applicability.

Congratulations! We’re looking forward to hearing about their exciting findings.