Breitman-Dorn Research Fellows

2024 – Shani Fleming

Shani Fleming, MS, MPH, PA-C, has devoted her career to promoting social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the healthcare community. She spent twenty years in clinical practice, working in family medicine, adolescent medicine, infectious disease, and urgent care. She serves as Associate Professor, Director of Community and Member Engagement of the PA Leadership and Learning Academy, and Graduate School Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer at the University of Maryland Baltimore. Shani has significant clinical, academic, and leadership experience as a PA. She is a proud HBCU graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and completed her PA studies, MPH, and MSHS from George Washington University. She will receive her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Black physician assistant representation is declining amid discussions on elevating the PA credential to a doctorate. Shani’s study “Through Their Lens: Black Pre-PA Students’ Views on the Entry-Level PA Doctorate” explored Black pre-PA’s perspectives, revealing challenges like cost and bias while recommending outreach and scholarships to boost representation and advance health equity.

2023 – Stephanie Neary

Stephanie Neary, MPA, MMS, PA-C, is an assistant professor adjunct with the Yale School of Medicine PA Online Program. She began her clinical career in 2015 in family medicine before transitioning to inpatient endocrinology. Stephanie is currently pursuing a PhD in Nursing Science at the Medical University of South Carolina. Her dissertation is titled “Exploring the Intersection of Flourishing and the Social Determinants of Health Among Medical, Physician Assistant, and Nurse Practitioner Students: A Mixed-Methods Approach.” This interdisciplinary study explores how social determinants of health (SDOH) are interrelated with a student’s perception of flourishing. By taking a strengths-based approach to student well-being and focusing on learning from students with varying levels of social and ecological needs, this study may offer a valuable opportunity to clarify how the measurement of flourishing can be adapted to, and integrated with, the SDOH model to improve learning environments and create an avenue for future research.

2022 – Nicholas Hudak

Nick Hudak, MPA, MSEd, PA-C, has been a clinically practicing PA since 2004 and PA educator since 2009. He is currently an associate professor in the Duke Division of PA Studies within the Duke University School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. Professor Hudak is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University. Professor Hudak’s dissertation is entitled “Policy Effect on Physician Assistant Student Mistreatment Reporting.” The findings of this national study may increase educators’ understanding of the role of policy in addressing mistreatment of PA students, which components of policy may be more effective in increasing student reporting to their institution, and identifying other variables affecting this complex phenomenon at the program and student levels. This study will provide a conceptual framework for mistreatment reporting behavior, inform policy design and implementation at the program level, guide future research, and ultimately enhance safety and inclusion across clinical learning environments.

2021 – Morgan Luck

Morgan Luck, MS, PA-C, began practicing clinically as a PA in 2001. She recently marked her fifth year as a PA educator and currently serves as an associate professor in the Shenandoah University Division of Physician Assistant Studies in Leesburg, Virginia. She is dedicated to research that supports advocacy for PA candidates and students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Her additional research interests include topics of curricular innovation. Morgan is currently in the dissertation phase of her Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree at Shenandoah University. Her dissertation is entitled “From Demographics to Designations: Predicting Minority Applicant Progress through the CASPA Pipeline.” This study focuses on PA graduate education candidates from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and examines attrition, barriers, and supports for these candidates in the application process.

Physician associate/physician assistant Morgan Luck

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.

Physician associate/physician assistant Daytheon Sturges

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.

Physician associate/physician assistant Richard Bottner

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.

Physician associate/physician assistant Bettie Coplan headshot

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.

Physician associate/physician assistant Tamara Ritsema

2016 – Virginia Valentin

Virginia 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.

Physician associate/physician assistant Virginia Valentin

2013 – Alison Essary

Physician associate/physician assistant Alison Essary

2012 – Karen Graham


Physician associate/physician assistant Karen Graham

2011 – Christine Everett

Physician associate/physician assistant Christine Everett

2010 – James Carlson

Physician associate/physician assistant James Carlson

2009 – Carol Biscardi

Physician associate/physician assistant Carol Biscardi

2008 – Jennifer Coombs

Physician associate/physician assistant Jennifer Coombs

2007 – Justine Strand de Oliveira

Physician associate/physician assistant Justine Strand de Oliveira

2006 – Rosann Ippolito

Physician associate/physician assistant Rosann Ippolito

2005 – Perri Morgan

Physician associate/physician assistant Perri Morgan

2004 – Dawn LaBarbera

Physician associate/physician assistant Dawn LaBarbera

2002 – Randy Danielsen

Physician associate/physician assistant Randy Danielsen

2001 – Lisa Alexander

Physician associate/physician assistant Lisa Alexander

1999 – Roderick Hooker

Physician associate/physician assistant Roderick Hooker