AAPA Hosts Research Fellows in Alexandria

The AAPA-PAEA Research Fellowship is a year-long research program that awards up to three faculty with valuable protected research time. Along with working on their projects, fellows develop research and leadership skills and have opportunities to build their professional networks at in-person seminars with health policy administrators, faculty, and other researchers. This summer’s educational seminar began with a warm welcome and tour of the freshly renovated AAPA offices in Alexandria, Virginia.

The 2018–2019 cohort of fellows, Ryan White, Bettie Coplan, and Morgan Nowak, experienced a packed first day. The seminar kicked off with AAPA Senior Director of Professional Advocacy Ellen Rathfon and PAEA Director of Government Relations Tyler Smith, who described how they leverage research and data to guide advocacy and made a case for the critical need for more high-quality PA research.

The remainder of the day’s presenters focused on grantsmanship. Abiola Keller, PhD, MPH, PA-C, assistant professor at Marquette University College of Nursing, described her struggles and successes as a recipient of multiple research grants. She shared useful tips for successful grant writing, emphasizing the selection of research questions that help students, the population, or the PA field to fill gaps in knowledge as a major differentiator in a successful grant application.  

Next, PAEA Chief Policy & Research Officer Dave Keahey shared his extensive grant writing experience and encouraged the three fellows to develop Health Resources and Services Administration-worthy grant objectives. Finally, PAEA Project Manager of Research Programs and Evaluations Eleadah Clack presented on the possible funding partnerships inherent between researchers and community-based organizations.

Day two brought a tidal wave of data, starting with Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which collects state-level data about Medicare and Medicaid patients and health care services. Later, Noemi Mendez, data dissemination specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, demonstrated the proper use of U.S. Census data visualization features and data that are available, right down to the “census block.”

A highlight of Thursday was the editorial panel featuring Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants Editor in Chief Reamer Bushardt, PharmD, PA-C, and Journal of Physician Assistant Education Editor in Chief David Asprey, PhD, PA-C, and Managing Editor Elizabeth Alesbury. Each gave expert advice on scholarly publishing, including acceptable article types, the best ways to ensure a submission ends up getting published in each journal, and the process for peer review.

Wrapping up the week of research opportunity and leadership development were speakers from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Veterans Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. These speakers provided in-depth descriptions of each agency’s sample data, survey tools, and funding opportunities, giving the fellows a broad array of future research directions as they seek to analyze care and provider services most effectively. 

Before heading home, the fellows had a group dinner to digest the information presented and prepare to collaborate. We are looking forward to the partnerships that will come from this meeting.

The 2018–2019 cycle of the fellowship will end after the 2019 PAEA Education Forum, opening a new chapter for this group of dedicated professionals to take their research to the next level. While the application period for the 2019–2020 Research Fellowship cohort has closed, check the PAEA website for other PA education research opportunities throughout the year.