Breitman-Dorn Research Fellowship


The Breitman-Dorn Endowed Research Fellowship was established in 1998 through a generous donation from Jerald A. Breitman in memory of his partner Stephen Dorn. The endowment encourages a commitment to research on the PA profession and provides financial assistance to doctoral candidates who are making a contribution to research on the influence of PAs on medical care.

The Breitman-Dorn Endowed Research Fellowship is a cash award, not a grant. It is not a requirement that the recipient use the money to offset doctoral expenses. The award amount will be $4,000 for the 2021 cycle.

Applicant Requirements:

  • The applicant’s research must address the role or contributions of PAs in health care; i.e., the research must focus on PA issues and benefit PAs and/or the PA profession. It is not a requirement that the research must focus exclusively on PAs or the PA profession.
  • It is not a requirement that the applicant must be a PA. Doctoral candidates from any discipline are welcome to submit an application.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in a graduate program and working toward a doctoral degree.
  • Applicants must have an approved doctoral dissertation proposal topic.
  • Applicants must be in good academic standing.

Fellowship Recipient Requirements:

  • The recipient must complete his or her dissertation within three years of the award.
  • The recipient must provide a copy of the completed dissertation to the PA Foundation.
  • The PA Foundation should be notified of any address changes.

2021 Application Cycle

The 2021 application cycle will open July 12.

Deadline: August 13, 2021

View the 2020 Breitman-Dorn Fellowship requirements document.

Questions? Please contact Caroline Pierce at [email protected].

Read our 20th Anniversary Report >>

Fellowship Recipients

2020 – Daytheon Sturges

Daytheon Sturges, MPAS, PA-C, CAHIMS, CHES, has been a PA since 2008 and a PA educator since 2013. He is an assistant professor at the University of Washington – MEDEX Northwest PA program, also serving as the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion chair for the Department of Family Medicine, while maintaining clinical practice in family medicine within the UW system. His passion is providing care to underserved populations. He serves as the chair of PAEA’s Diversity and Inclusion Mission Advancement Commission, as a Faculty Skills 101 Workshop facilitator, and as the Cultural Perspectives editor for the Journal of Physician Assistant Education. He is currently embarking upon the dissertation phase for the Ph.D. degree in health studies at Texas Woman’s University, where he also completed a post-master’s certificate in interprofessional informatics. His dissertation is studying perceived burnout in underrepresented minority PA educators in the United States in order to inform future health interventions.

2019 – Richard Bottner

Richard Bottner, PA-C, is a PA in the Division of Hospital Medicine at Dell Seton Medical Center (DSMC) at the University of Texas at Austin, where he leads several quality- and process-improvement projects. He is also an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Internal Medicine at Dell Medical School at UT-Austin. He is pursuing a Doctor of Health Administration degree at the Medical University of South Carolina, with a research focus on hospital-based treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). His dissertation is entitled “Identification of Successful Components and Barriers of an In-Hospital Buprenorphine Program.” The objective of the study is to describe the experience of how a single 220-bed academic hospital in central Texas implemented a buprenorphine therapy program during hospitalization and sought to overcome the barriers of adoption. While pieces of programs have been described in the literature, there is a dearth of information about how hospitals can build and implement the process – especially in institutions which do not have addiction medicine consultation services. Sharing how one hospital is accomplishing the goal of treating Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and reducing stigma may present a more scalable model.

2018 – Bettie Coplan

Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, is an associate clinical professor in the department of PA studies at Northern Arizona University’s College of Health and Human Services. She is pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD in nursing and health innovation at Arizona State University. Coplan’s dissertation is entitled “How PA Programs Successfully Promote Diversity in Admissions.” The purpose of the study is to explore organizational characteristics reflected in holistic review practices that lead to diverse student enrollment. Questions that will be addressed include: 1) What specific admissions processes do programs that enroll high proportions of underrepresented minority (URM) students use (e.g. for screening of applicants)? and 2) What attributes of organizational culture support these processes? The study utilizes a qualitative design and multiple case study methodology to examine the admissions processes at PA programs with high URM enrollment (when accounting for regional population demographics). Results will be used to create recommendations and intervention strategies to facilitate effective use of holistic review in PA program admissions. The overall goal is to make a substantive contribution to the profession’s efforts to promote a diverse workforce.

2017 – Tamara Ritsema

Tamara Ritsema, MPH, MMSc, PA-C/R, is a PhD student in the medical sciences interdisciplinary program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and an assistant professor of PA studies at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is completing a dissertation entitled “Barriers and Facilitating Factors in the Integration of the First UK-trained Physician Associates into Secondary Care Services in the British National Health Service.” One purpose of the study, which utilizes a grounded theory qualitative approach, is to assist medical teams incorporating PAs for the first time to anticipate and address issues that commonly arise with the introduction of this new role onto the team. PAs who are beginning practice in secondary care may also benefit from better understanding the experiences of other PAs who have established the PA role in a new clinical setting. The results are particularly timely, as the UK will soon see a substantial increase in the number of PAs entering practice. An improved understanding of the process of implementing PAs into secondary care may also allow educators to more effectively train PAs to work in secondary care settings in the National Health Service (NHS). Finally, results from this study may assist health workforce planners in other developed countries evaluate the potential of the PA role for their health systems.

2016 – Virginia Valentin

V Valentin HeadshotVirginia Valentin, MCMS, PA-C, is director of didactic education and assistant professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Division of PA Studies. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Public Health Epidemiology at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health (expected graduation May 2017). Her dissertation is entitled “Malignant Melanoma: An Analysis of the Individual and Social Factors on Stage of Disease and Treatment in Kentucky.” The purpose of the study is to understand the variables leading to the increase in melanoma incidence and mortality in Kentucky. Valentin hypothesizes that there may be factors related to melanoma rates that are distinctive to Kentucky, as the Commonwealth has a higher proportion of the population which is generally impoverished, rural, and medically underserved compared to other states. In addition, other studies have shown that the disease stage and treatment of melanoma is influenced by a wide range of individual and social factors, including age, gender, race, SES, access to healthcare, etc. The proposed research will be a retrospective population-based study utilizing individual level variables from the Kentucky Cancer Registry (KCR) and community level variables from the United States Census Bureau.

2013 – Alison Essary

Essary, AllisonAlison Essary, associate professor and director of student affairs at the College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, is working toward a doctor of health sciences degree at the Arizona School of Health Sciences, A.T. Still University. Her dissertation is “The Relationship between Physician Assistant Program Costs and Student Tuition and Fees.” In describing her research, Essary stated, “Relative to the medical literature, the research on the costs of education for the institution and to PA students is minimal. Based on trends in medical education, the burgeoning debt crisis among medical graduates, and rapid changes in the health care environment, it would benefit the PA community to better understand the economics of the profession.” The research design is a five-year retrospective, descriptive, quantitative study using national data collected by PAEA.

2012 – Karen Graham

Graham-KarenKaren Graham, associate clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse PA program, received a PhD in higher education administration from the University of Toledo’s Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service. Her dissertation is “Development and Validation of a Measure of Intention to Stay in Academia for Physician Assistant Faculty.” The purpose of the study is to address the problem of inadequate PA faculty retention by determining whether the intention of PA faculty to stay in academia can be meaningfully measured. An enhanced understanding of PA faculty retention will assist program directors, senior PA faculty and the professional leadership in developing targeted recruitment and retention efforts for PA faculty.

2011 – Christine Everett

Everett-ChristineChristine Everett is director of research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison PA program. Her dissertation is “PA/NP Role on Primary Care Patient Panels and Outcomes of Patients with Diabetes.” The purpose of her study is to define physician assistant and nurse practitioner roles in primary care and compare their influence or effectiveness on health outcomes for patients with diabetes. She has developed a novel conceptual model for PA and NP patient care roles in the delivery of primary care, and she has identified several important research questions that, when answered, will contribute significantly to the understanding of the contribution PAs and NPs can make to primary care delivery that optimize outcomes for patients with diabetes.

2010 – James Carlson

Carlson-JamesJames Carlson is assistant professor in the PA program and director of the Education and Evaluation Center at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Illinois. He received a doctorate degree in interprofessional healthcare studies. His dissertation topic “Evaluation of Transactive Memory Systems during Simulated Healthcare Team Training” will contribute to the growing body of literature focused on training and assessing healthcare team performance. This project is particularly relevant to the physician assistant profession since PAs by definition practice as members of the healthcare team, and methods to evaluate and track team performance may be beneficial to both PA educators and healthcare systems that employ PAs.

2009 – Carol Biscardi

Biscardi-CarolCarol A. Biscardi is program director at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. At the time of her fellowship award, she was chair of the department of physician assistant studies and program director at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. She received a PhD in health sciences with a specialization in health professions leadership from Seton Hall in 2010. Her dissertation “Practice Characteristics and Lifestyle Choices of Men and Women Physician Assistants and the Relationship to Career Satisfaction” focuses on the changing gender demographics of the profession to determine if there are any gender-related differences in practice characteristics and lifestyle choices of practicing PAs and ascertain if there is a relationship between career satisfaction and gender.

2008 – Jennifer Coombs

Coombs-JenniferJennifer Coombs is assistant professor at the University of Utah PA program in Salt Lake City. She received her PhD in public health from the University of Utah in 2010. Her dissertation focuses on physician assistant workforce issues in Utah, where there has been a dramatic shift toward increasing specialization and urbanization and more females entering the PA profession over the last five years. Using a unique data set from the Utah Medical Education Council, she analyzed the impact of these changes on the supply of primary care providers needed in this large rural state.

2007 – Justine Strand de Oliveira

Strand-de-Oliveira-JustineJustine Strand de Oliveira is professor and chief of the PA division of the department of community and family medicine at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. She completed the Leadership Doctorate in Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008. Her dissertation “Enabling Legislation for Physician Assistants in Puerto Rico: A Sociocultural Policy Analysis,” focused on the barriers to achieving legislation for PAs in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2006 – Rosann Ippolito

Ippolito-RosannRosann Ippolito is director and clinical professor at the Northeastern University Bouvé College of Health Sciences PA program in Boston, Massachusetts. She completed her PhD at Northeastern in 2006 in the interdisciplinary law, policy and society program. Her dissertation is “State-Mandated Private Third-Party Reimbursement for PA-Provided Medical Services: A Policy Analysis.” The purpose of the study is to analyze the factors that contributed to enactment of a state reimbursement mandate for medical services provided by PAs.

2005 – Perri Morgan

Morgan-PerriPerri Morgan is associate professor and director of PA research in the physician assistant division of the department of community and family medicine at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. She obtained her PhD in population health sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. Her dissertation “Practice Pattern Changes and Practice Outcomes of Physician Assistants in Office-based Medical Care, 1996-2002” used a large national healthcare survey to compare the types of patients seen by PAs with those seen by physicians with regard to patient characteristics, patient satisfaction, provision of preventive services and health services use. Her findings were published in Health Services Research in October 2008.

2004 – Dawn LaBarbera

LaBarbera-DawnDawn LaBarbera is associate professor and department chair at the University of Saint Francis School of Health Sciences PA program in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At the time of her fellowship award, she was assistant professor and research coordinator at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Sciences, formerly Finch University, in North Chicago, Illinois. She received her PhD in organization and management at Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her thesis “Physician Assistant Holland Codes as Determined by the Self-Directed Search Form R and Vocational Satisfaction” empirically tested Holland’s vocational typology assigned to the PA profession and measured PA vocational satisfaction in general and in accordance with Holland’s typology.

2002 – Randy Danielsen


Randy Danielsen is professor and dean of the Arizona School of Health Sciences at A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona. He received his PhD from the Union Institute & University in 2003. His dissertation “Prediction of Passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Using a Comprehensive Summative Evaluation” compared scores on a comprehensive summative evaluation (CSE), comprised of a combination of multiple-choice questions, standardized patients, SOAP notes and the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). His research showed a statistically significant relationship between the CSE and PANCE scores of 150 PA students nearing graduation at two private PA programs in the southwest United States between 1999 and 2001.

2001 – Lisa Alexander

Alexander-LisaLisa Alexander is program director and interim department chair of physician assistant studies, assistant dean for community-based partnerships, and professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC. She received her doctorate in education from George Washington University in 2003. Her research focused on the identity of a profession, with a special focus on physician assistants. In 2002, she was the recipient of the Ralph Stone award for outstanding scholarship and leadership among doctoral students. Her current research interests include inter-professional education, non-physician clinicians in developing countries and primary care service delivery for individuals with disabilities.

1999 – Roderick Hooker

Hooker-RoderickRoderick Hooker is a consultant in health policy and health services research and an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, DC. At the time of his fellowship award, he was a rheumatology physician assistant and health services researcher at Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon. He received his PhD in health policy at the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. His dissertation focused on a cost-benefit analysis model of physician assistant employment. The objective was to determine if PAs negated any of the cost-effectiveness by changing the patterns of care or using more expensive resources.