Don Pedersen Grantees Focus on Mentoring and Workforce Development 

After a competitive process and blinded peer review, PAEA is pleased to award the 2022-2023 Don Pedersen Research Grants to Susannah Jenkins, MPAS, PA-C, assistant professor at George Washington University, and Lillian Navarro-Reynolds, MS, PA-C, associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University. 

Don Pedersen Research Grant recipients Susannah Jenkins, MPAS, PA-C, assistant professor at George Washington University, and Lillian Navarro-Reynolds, MS, PA-C, associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University. 

Both researchers focus on ensuring that PA students, faculty, and certified PAs are given the tools and opportunities to succeed in PA education and the profession. In her project, Pediatric PA Practice Barriers and Facilitators, Professor Jenkins tackles the shortage of PAs in pediatric medicine and addresses issues such as pediatric job availability, the medical provider shortage, and locating pediatric preceptors for PA education. In PA education, Professor Navarro-Reynolds explores how PA programs can support PA faculty in advising students and ensuring their work helps students succeed. Her project is titled Facilitators and Barriers to Holistic Equity-Minded Advising: PA Faculty Perspectives.  

As a practicing pediatric emergency medicine PA, Jenkins is interested in how the PA profession lost relevance in pediatrics and seeks to address the PA shortage by partnering with the pediatric provider community. Despite an overall pediatric provider shortage, Jenkins has seen instances when nurse practitioners were preferred over PAs for job opportunities and a pediatrician declined PA clinical rotations in favor of medical and nurse practitioner students because she “did not foresee having PAs on her team.”  

As a result, Jenkins and her team are identifying the barriers and facilitators to PAs in pediatric medicine. Removing the barriers will prompt education, open communication, and collaboration. At the same time, the facilitators may require a new approach to pediatrics by creating post-graduate, pediatric scholarship opportunities for PA students and more pediatric-focused PA education tracks. AAPA already has liaison positions to foster increased collaboration with our physician colleagues across the different disciplines. This research seeks to demonstrate to policymakers, pediatricians, and PAs the successful utilization models and showcase the success of hospital systems using PAs in the delivery of care. In addition, the lessons learned may help increase the number of PAs in other specialties. ­­­

Professor Navarro-Reynolds is examining the facilitators and barriers to PA faculty engaging in academic advising that supports student success. She notes that many studies across academic professions demonstrate that solid student-faculty relationships support learner success. However, there needs to be more research on the impact of advising on faculty. In her own experience as an advisor, she has observed that academic advising is undervalued, does not contribute to promotion, and is often performed by women and minoritized faculty. Navarro-Reynolds’ goal is to develop clear guidance for PA programs to help improve the faculty and student advising experience. This advising model will help diversify the profession and support increased retention of students and faculty from diverse backgrounds.   

We look forward to working with our new grantees and thank Don Pedersen, PhD, PA-C, and Kathy Pedersen, MPAS, PA-C, for their generous and ongoing support of PA researchers. The support of the Pedersen family and the PAEA Board of Directors plays an important role in fostering the development of PA researchers.

A new Don Pedersen Research Grant application cycle will open this spring. If you are interested in applying, Navarro-Reynolds encourages future applicants to start early, set time-sensitive goals, and build a strong team to help develop your research plan. 

Jenkins reflects, “As a new faculty member, I was proud to put in the work, ask questions, and learn the process. If you never submit, you will never have the opportunity to receive a grant or have a manuscript accepted for publication. This will change my career, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me!” 

Learn More

For more information, the PAEA Research Team can answer questions about how to apply for grants, how to find a mentor, or how to get started on the path to research, contact us at or 703-651-8540.