Research Fellows — Past and Present — Delve into Data

During the fellowship session at the Forum in Anaheim, PAEA’s Chief Policy and Research Officer Dave Keahey kicked off the celebration with opening remarks, giving an overview of the history and goals of the fellowship, a recap of the resources and development opportunities offered to the fellows, and some sage wisdom about using research to effect change. Next, our inaugural cohort of research fellows presented findings that represented the culmination of a year’s hard work done in collaboration with their mentors.

Christy Hanson, MPAS, PA-C, presented her work on URM Status and Choice Process When Considering the PA Profession, which provided important insights into when and from what sources prospective PA students are learning about the profession – and whether students’ underrepresented minority status plays a role. Formerly of Bethel University, Professor Hanson is now applying her findings as the director of the developing Northwestern College PA program.

Next, Alicia Quella, PhD, PA-C, of Augsburg University provided an update on her study of Employment Trends of New PAs. Combining AAPA matriculant and census survey data, Dr. Quella aims to understand job trends such as career changes, dual employment, and employer selectivity. Data on these trends have implications not only for PA educators and students, but also for prospective employers of PAs and policymakers.

Virginia Valentin, DrPH, PA-C, of the University of Utah, closed out the outgoing cohort’s presentations with her talk on PA Scope of Practice Laws and PA Graduates. Dr. Valentin created a multi-year dataset using both AAPA and PAEA data, representing all 50 states and Washington, DC. The goal of her ongoing analysis is to determine the impact of state scope of practice on the number of PAs and PA graduates in a state.

Following these presentations, our new cohort of research fellows introduced themselves and spoke about their upcoming work. We asked the new fellows a few questions about their research projects.

Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, of Northern Arizona University, will be investigating how PA programs successfully promote diversity in admissions. Morgan Nowak, MS, PA-C, of Shenandoah University, will investigate whether PA programs’ standardized test requirements impact student diversity. Ryan White, MS, MPH, PA-C, of Rutgers University, aims to identify state- and sub-state-level factors that influence the regulatory environment and wages for PAs.

Our new fellows have already started work on their research projects and will soon be traveling to Washington, DC, to meet with influential health workforce and education researchers and organizations. Rick Dehn, chair of the Research Mission Advancement Commission and the Research Fellowship Advisory Committee, provided parting words, thanking the outgoing research fellows, their mentors, and all involved with making the fellowship a success for their hard work.

This year’s Forum invited us to think about what the future holds. If our research fellows are any indication, the future of PA research appears to be in good hands.