Research Fellows Visit DC for Week-Long Seminar

It was a busy and energizing week in Washington, DC, for the three 2018–2019 AAPA-PAEA Research Fellows. Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, Morgan Nowak, MS, PA-C, and Ryan White, MS, MPH, PA-C, met with 28 research presenters from 10 different organizations during their week in the nation’s capital The experience was designed to foster their research skills and teach them how to represent the PA profession in the domains of health, education, and workforce research.

The fellows were joined by PAEA Research Mission Advancement Commission Chair Rick Dehn, MPA, PA-C, NCCPA Director of Research Andrzej Kozikowski, PhD, and other AAPA/PAEA research staff. The fellows gathered after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday to gain insight into the work of various research and policy institutions, including The National Academies of Medicine (NAM), the Association of American Medical College’s Workforce Studies Center, the National Center for Educational Statistics, and several other organizations.

The week-long seminar began with a presentation by Dave Keahey, MSPH, PA-C, chief policy and research officer for PAEA, about the role of government and federal agencies in research, as well as different pathways to research leadership in the PA profession. Afterward, the group visited NAM, where they met with Gregg Margolis, PhD, director of health policy fellowships and leadership programs, and representatives from NAM’s Health and Medicine Division. There, the group was also joined by PAEA CEO Timi Agar Barwick, MPM, who said, “NAM provided us with a unique and comprehensive view into their role in the policy environment. This conversation, and others we have had as part of the fellowship, provide excellent opportunities to enhance PAEA’s voice and create future leadership opportunities in research and policy at the national level.”

Tamara Ritsema speaks to Fellowship attendees. Photo: PAEA

The PAEA and AAPA research teams gave overviews of their data and resources available to support the fellows’ research projects. These presentations were followed by a workshop on how to define and develop one’s own research agenda, facilitated by PA researcher Tamara Ritsema, MPH, MMS, PA-C, assistant professor of PA studies at George Washington University.

Research on the impact of PAs in education and the health workforce, as well as the need for PA representation in health professions research, were underlying themes throughout the second day of the seminar. The fellows traveled to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to hear about the importance of PAs at community health centers and the opportunities available for PA researchers to collaborate with NACHC.

These conversations were followed by discussions with research staff at The Robert Graham Center (RGC), affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians. Led by Director Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH, the group addressed the intersection between PA education and the primary care workforce and were introduced to various tools available to visualize the associations between provider distribution and health outcomes. The fellows also met with Clese Erikson, MPAff, Ed Salsberg, MPA, and Candice Chen, MD, MPH, at the George Washington University Health Workforce Institute to discuss the connections between health workforce research and policy and for an overview of the institute’s current research projects.

Leadership panel speakers with the current Fellows. From left to right: Bettie Coplan, Perri Morgan, Jim Cawley, Rick Dehn, Bob McNelis, Lucy Kibe, Morgan Nowak, Ryan White. Photo: PAEA

To emphasize the fellowship’s goal of cultivating leadership among PA researchers, Bob McNellis, MPH, PA, Jim Cawley, MPH, PA-C, Lucy Kibe, DRPH, MS, MHS, PA-C, Perri Morgan, PhD, MEd, PA-C, and Rick Dehn, MPA, PA-C — trailblazing PA researchers — participated in a panel discussing their unique professional pathways that led them to their current positions as leaders in PA and health professions research. Participants on the panel offered their perspectives on the importance of encouraging PA researchers to form collaborations and take a leading role in health professions research.

“This fellowship experience has exceeded my expectations, which were already high following conversations with one of last year’s fellows,” said AAPA-PAEA Research Fellow Ryan White. Noël Smith, MA, AAPA’s senior director of PA and industry research and analysis, said, “The opportunities presented through this Fellowship are tremendous, including opportunities to collaborate with researchers and policy-makers outside the traditional areas of PA education. AAPA is currently in talks with researchers at the RGC on possible collaborative projects in the coming year.”

Looking forward, the fellows will meet via four webinars throughout the year and will gather again at the 2019 AAPA Conference in Denver, Colorado, and during a summer seminar in Alexandria, Virginia, before presenting their interim research findings at the 2019 PAEA Education Forum in Washington, DC, this October.

The PAEA and AAPA research teams would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all of the individuals and groups that met with us throughout the week, supporting the goals and research endeavors of the fellows, including:

  • Academic Medicine
  • Association of American Medical College’s Workforce Studies Center
  • George Washington University Health Workforce Research Institute
  • National Academy of Medicine
  • National Association of Community Health Centers
  • National Center for Educational Statistics
  • The Robert Graham Center

We are also extremely appreciative of both PAEA’s and AAPA’s boards of directors for their investments in PA research and their vision of fostering a new generation of research leaders in the PA profession.