Don Pedersen Endowed Chair in the Division of Physician Assistant Studies in the School of Medicine
Donald M. Pedersen, PhD, PA-C
Clinical Professor Emeritus
University of Utah School of Medicine
Dr. Don Pedersen has been involved with the Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP) since 1979, initially serving as Academic Coordinator. He was the Program Director from 1989 to 2010 after attaining a faculty appointment in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine (DFPM) in the University of Utah School of Medicine. He, more recently, served as the Chief of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies and is now an Emeritus Professor and active internationally with his wife Kathy in a program they created, called Global Partners (GP). GP seeks to broker resources of the University of Utah to meet the needs of multinational corporations and humanitarian organizations through education and clinical care. Dr. Pedersen has authored over 80 articles and book chapters relating to clinical practice and physician assistant education. Under his leadership UPAP became a graduate program in the School of Medicine offering the Masters of Physician Assistant Studies degree. Nationally, he is a past President of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) with 4 years of service on the Board of Directors. In 1998 he founded the Association’s national, peer-reviewed Journal of Physician Assistant Education and served as the journal’s founding editor and publisher for the initial seven years of operation. He also created the Association’s Research Institute and through an endowment from their family foundation, he and Kathy created a small grants program, which bears his name, for educational research by PA program faculty on a national level. During his tenure with the Association he established a liaison position with the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) and served in this capacity for two years. He also represented the Association as the liaison to the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH). Dr. Pedersen has served as the President of the Physician Assistant Foundation (PAF), the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). He completed eight years of service on the PAF Board of Trustees and was awarded Emeritus Trustee status. Through the PAF, he and Kathy established an endowed grant program in honor of Don’s father to award international humanitarian outreach grants to PAs, PA Programs and PA students. To date nearly 50 grants have been awarded to assist in over 15 countries on 5 continents. While President of the PAF, he also raised $80,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief, which helped to rebuild a Community Health Center Clinic in Longbeach, Mississippi and provided funding for a free clinic in Shrevport, LA caring for those affected by the disaster. He completed ten years on the State of Utah Physician Assistant Licensing Board at DOPL, serving two years as chair. He recently completed 6 years on the Board of Directors of the Health Foundation of the National Commission on Certification of PAs (NCCPA), where he established the Kathy J. Pedersen Grant program to Combat Health Disparities. In 1997 he helped pioneer the Utah PA Program’s international clinical activities starting in Papua New Guinea, Thailand and now Nepal. He served as a founding member on both the AAPA International Working Group and the PA Historical Society.
Following the 2004 tsunami, Dr. Pedersen traveled to southern Thailand as a volunteer, serving 3 weeks to help identify the dead by harvesting ribs from victims for DNA matching with buccal swabs from survivors. He worked with the Thai military at Wat Yan Yao, a Buddhist temple where the makeshift morgue was established and approximately 4000 bodies were processed.In 1998 he was voted Outstanding PA Educator of the Year by the AAPA and received the President’s Award from the PAEA. In 2007 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Medical Association. In 2009 he received the Research Achievement Award from the PAEA. In 2010 he received the Outstanding PA of the Year Award from the AAPA. The Global Health Excellence and Leadership Award was bestowed by the University of Utah. Don and his son Nick trekked to the Mt. Everest Base Camp at 18,000 feet and placed a plaque for a PA who perished in the 2015 Nepal earthquake. The plaque was placed at Thukla Pass at the “monument site” near Base Camp. Don volunteered with Project Hope after the Nepal Earthquake working for 3 weeks at Manmohan Memorial Teaching Hospital, the Kathmandu hospital where the PA Program has had an international rotation for the past 8 years. Also, in 2016 Don was recognized by PAEA with their Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2018, he received the Lifetime Service Award from the University of Utah Medical School Alumni Association. Serving for 16 years in the Army National Guard and the Air Force Reserves, he had active duty service during Operation Desert Storm. Prior to the pandemic Don volunteered as a physician assistant, for 8 years, at the Hope free clinic in Salt Lake City.