PAEA Hosts Virtual Research Fellowship Seminar

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The COVID-19 pandemic may have stopped travel, but it couldn’t slow down PAEA’s 2020-2021 January PAEA Research Fellowship Seminar. Our newest cohort of fellows, Adrian Banning, DHSc, MMS, PA-C of the Drexel University PA Program and Stephanie Neary, MPA, MMS, PA-C of the Yale School of Medicine PA Online Program logged on virtually for four days of learning and discussion.  PAEA’s Research Fellowship, conducted in partnership with AAPA, is an opportunity for ambitious junior researchers to contribute to the growing body of PA literature, broaden their knowledge of PA education and the profession, expand their professional networks, and start down the fast-track to PA leadership.

Our fellows were joined by PAEA Research Mission Advancement Commission (RMAC) chair Mary L. Warner, DBH, PA-C; and AAPA and PAEA research staff. PAEA’s new chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer (CDEIO) Monica L. Miles, PhD also introduced herself to the PA research community. Miles will oversee PAEA Research as it supports faculty research and the organization’s DEI initiatives. 

PAEA CEO Mary Jo Bondy, DHEd, MHS, PA-C, welcomed the fellows to the seminar and spoke about important contributions that the fellows were making to the PA profession. PAEA’s chief policy and government relations officer, Dave Keahey, MSPH, PA-C, followed Bondy with a presentation on research leadership. Drawing on his experience as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow, he encouraged the fellows to become research leaders and to use their scholarship to advance policies that improve PA education and workforce.

After the welcome orientation, the seminar shifted to sessions with researchers and decision-makers from across the medical research and policy communities. The first session was with the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), where the Fellows were given an overview of some of its key focus areas by J. Michael McGinnis, MD, MA, MPAA, NAM’s Leonard D. Schaeffer, executive officer; and Gregg Margolis, PhD, director of health policy fellowships and leadership programs. The virtual setting also offered the opportunity to invite new speakers including Makenzie Peterson, MSc, the Director of Wellbeing at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Ms. Peterson discussed building an organizational culture that supports student and faculty well-being, which was very relevant to this year’s Fellowship projects that focus on PA student well-being.

The next day, the fellows took a turn as reviewers as former RMAC chair Rick Dehn, MPA, PA-C presented them with several grant applications to evaluate. Afterwards, Dehn joined the research leadership panel alongside moderator Dr. Mary Warner, Carolyn Bradley-Guidry, DrPH, MPAS, PA-C, assistant dean for diversity, inclusion, and equity affairs of School of Health Professions at the University of Texas Southwestern; and James F. Cawley, MPH, PA-C, DHL (Hon), Professor, School of Physician Assistant Practice at Florida State University; Theresa Hegmann, MPAS, PA-C, clinical professor at the University of Iowa PA program; Lucy Kibe, DrPH, MS, MHS, PA-C, program director at the Charles R. Drew University PA program; Perri Morgan, PhD, PA-C, professor of family medicine and community health at the Duke University PA program. These experienced PA researchers and past PAEA research grant awardees shared their unique pathways to a position of research leadership. Panelists offered lessons learned as they faced forks in the road, found new opportunities, and overcame obstacles. Through it all, they emphasized the importance of collaboration and mentorship in developing a long, productive research career.

On the third day, Tara Lawley, PhD of the American Institutes of Research, provided a tour of the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, which raised important questions about accurately tracking data from PA education programs. The fellows then explored the latest medical workforce trends and their implications with Michael Dill, MPP and Xiaochu Hu, PhD of the Association of American Medical College’s Workforce Studies Center. Clese Erikson, MPAff and Eric Luo, PhD, MPSA of the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity followed up with a discussion about health equity and the institute’s current HRSA-funded research projects. 

On the final day, Tamara Ritsema, PhD, MPH, MMS, PA-C guided the Fellows through how to identify your research interest, build a research agenda, and publish their research. In the middle of a pandemic, she also reassured the Fellows that they should cut themselves some slack in these trying times. The research staff at the Robert Graham Center, the research and policy arm of the American Academy of Family Physicians led by Doug Kamerow, MD, PhD addressed the intersection between PA education and the primary care workforce. Recognizing the fellows’ research interests during a discussion about provider burnout, Dr. Kamerow encouraged them to find ways to collaborate in the future. Then, Michelle Proser, PhD, director of research at the National Association of Community Health Centers, spoke about the work of community health centers and presented workforce data collected by her organization that demonstrate the impact that PAs have on patient care. Finally, Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH and Joel Willis, DO, PA, MA, MPhil of the American Board of Family Medicine added to the workforce data by discussing the positive role of PAs in medical team dynamics and providing a global perspective to primary medicine.

Our newest cohort of future research leaders signed off with a new network of research colleagues and a copious amount of research ideas. They already report following up on new connections and planting the seeds for future collaboration. Adrian Banning said, “While I knew the fellowship was going to be a valuable experience, the resources offered to us were so much richer than I’d even expected. It opens up a whole world of collaboration, connections, and ideas.” They will gather again virtually at the 2021 AAPA Conference, and then during a summer seminar before presenting their interim research findings at the 2021 PAEA Education Forum this October.

The PAEA and AAPA research teams would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all the individuals and groups that met with us throughout the week, supporting the goals and research endeavors of the fellows. We would also like to express our appreciation to the PAEA and AAPA Boards of Directors for their continuing investments in the Fellowship, which is a launching pad for a PA researcher’s career. 

If you are interested in joining this elite group of fellows, keep an eye out for the 2021-2022 application cycle, which will open in the spring. More information can be found on our web page and we welcome questions at or 703-651-8540.