AAPA-PAEA Research Fellowship Welcomes New Cohort

The AAPA-PAEA Research Fellowship is a program designed to “buy out” faculty time and help develop PA faculty into research leaders. Each cohort uses this protected research time to identify gaps in knowledge about PA education and workforce issues, and uncover new ideas and bring them into the public domain. 

The third cohort of AAPA-PAEA Research Fellows, Kari Bernard, MS, PA-C, and Vanessa Bester, EdD, MPAS, PA-C, received an encouraging welcome into the world of PA scholarly research at this year’s Education Forum. The Forum is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of PA researchers and highlight the projects of both the outgoing and incoming cohorts.

To kick off the Research Fellowship presentations, Rick Dehn, MPA, PA-C, chair of the Research Mission Advancement Commission (RMAC) and member of the advisory committee that founded the Fellowship, provided the history of how it progressed from an RMAC idea to a reality.

Last year’s fellows, Ryan White, MS, MPH, PA-C, Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, and Morgan Nowak, MS, PA-C, presented interim results from their research findings and outlined their plans to disseminate their work. They also talked about their future pathways in research and their year-long fellowship experience as a whole.

White discussed the similarities between his own research into PA practice wage gaps and research on “incident to” billing performed by 2019 Faculty-Generated Research Grantee Tamara Ritsema, PhD, MPH, MMSc, PA-C/R. White’s research revealed moderate and permissive scopes of practice to be significantly correlated with higher wages compared to restrictive scopes of practice. 

Results from Nowak’s study, “Contributing Factors to a Lack of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Matriculating Physician Assistant (PA) Student Cohorts,” demonstrated a positive relationship between PA programs in cities with a local Hispanic population and ethnic diversity in matriculating PA students. 

Finally, Coplan’s study on admissions processes that reinforce “holistic admissions” found that key informants or “champions for diversity” can significantly influence the application evaluation process. Her study complements one of the incoming fellows’ research projects. 

One session attendee commented on the “great future of research” that the fellowship encourages by “expanding the capacity for PA research.” Virginia Valentin, DrPH, PA-C, and Alicia Quella, PhD, PA-C, alumni from the inaugural 2017–18 cohort, were in attendance and are already beginning to “pay it forward” by serving as research mentors for the newest fellows. 

The 2019–20 cohort will meet with influential health care decision-makers and researchers at the National Academy of Medicine, the American Board of Family Health, and the Association of American Medical Colleges — among other organizations — during the coming year. You can stay informed about the Fellowship experience by visiting PAEA’s Research Professional Learning Community. Those interested in applying for the next cohort of the Fellowship will be able to do so next spring.