Early-Career Don Pedersen Awardee Encourages Colleagues to Pursue Research

By Samuel Paik, MSPAS, PA-C

Samuel Paik, 2021-2022 Don Pedersen
Research Grant Awardee

The Don Pedersen Research Grant is a funding opportunity for early-career PA faculty to pursue research and scholarship in PA education and workforce development. Its mission beautifully aligns with why we went into health care as PAs, and I encourage my colleagues to apply. As an early-career faculty member, not only was I new to writing research proposals, but I was also in my first year in academia, learning the ropes of being a faculty member at Charles Drew University. My grant application would not have been successful without the support of my program director and mentor, Lucy Kibe, DrPH, PA-C. I highly recommend that everyone have a mentor or experienced collaborator to work with on their study. During the early stages of the proposal, my first step was to ask:

  • What is in my hands?
  • What are the issues most pressing to me on an individual or community level?
  • What are the issues that are in my backyard?
  • What am I passionate about already?

Knowing the answers to these questions helps the researcher develop a problem statement and research question. Because of my experience with diversity issues working at a minority-serving institution near Compton, California, I decided to investigate race and ethnicity in PA program admissions in my project, Black Males Applicants in PA Education: A Comparative Review of Applicant Parameters. Dr. Kibe and I will apply scientific methods and statistical analysis to identify disparities among Black male applicants and encourage evidence-based practice in admissions to promote increased equity and inclusion of Black men in the PA profession. 

Working at a minority-serving institution provides me with a unique perspective. Diversity is not just a mission statement on a website, but a real breathing thing that I see in students daily. My research proposal was motivated by Charles Drew University’s PA program mission to prepare a uniquely diverse group of compassionate healthcare workers. As admissions chair, program diversity and developing strategies to reach groups underrepresented in medicine are constantly on my mind.

Writing the research proposal made me feel like I was back in college. I scoured the university’s library database and collected articles via Endnote, first organizing my sources and then creating the actual citations. Dr. Kibe’s research experience and numerous past publications were critical in developing our research methodology and analytical plan. Sometimes, the process would require us to work backward and ask additional questions about diversity in the PA profession such as:

  • Why do we have so few Black men in the PA profession?
  • What kinds of students are applying?
  • Is it regional?
  • Is it GRE or GPA related, and if so, how?

My experience applying for the Don Pedersen Grant was fantastic. Grant writing was a little daunting since it was unknown territory for me. I am still learning as I go, but the resources at my institution and PAEA have been super supportive and have really allowed me to be creative in putting this research project together. If you are interested in applying for the Don Pedersen Research Grant, applications must be submitted through the PAEA Research online application platform no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 30, 2022. More information about the program, submission instructions, and formatting requirements can be found here. If you would like advice or mentorship on your proposal before submission, contact PAEA Research at or 703-651-8540.