School of Medicine

Physician Assistant Studies - Program

Faculty

Program Director

Jared Spackman, MPAS, PA-C

Born in San Francisco, CA before relocating to Salt Lake City, he completed the Physician Assistant program at Rocky Mountain College in Billings Montana in 2000. He obtained a post-graduate Master’s degree from the University of Utah in 2009. He has worked in several disciplines, including pediatrics, orthopedics/sports medicine, migrant farm ch... Read More

Email:  jspackman@upap.utah.edu

Medical Director

Richard L. Backman, MD

Richard Backman, M.D. is a board-certified Family Medicine physician and Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Chemistry from Pitzer College in Claremont, California in 1984, and obtained his medical degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, in 1994. Dr. Backm... Read More

Email:  richard.backman@hsc.utah.edu

Site Director - St. George

Rayne M. Loder, MHS, PA-C

Rayne Loder, MHS, PA-C is a board certified Physician Assistant who is currently an Assistant Professor with the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP). Her primary teaching location is the St. George campus. Rayne received her undergraduate degree in biology in 2006 from Lebanon Valley College... Read More

Email:  rayne.loder@utah.edu

Associate Program Directors

Shaun P. Curran, MPAS, PA-C

Shaun Curran, PA-C is a board certified Physician Assistant who is currently an Assistant Professor with the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP). Shaun graduated from UPAP in 2014 and has been involved in educational and clinical projects at the PA program since his graduation He received his undergraduate defree from... Read More

Email:  shaun.curran@utah.edu

Amanda Moloney-Johns, MPAS, PA-C

Amanda Moloney-Johns is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. Amanda started at UPAP in 2009 as the Director of Clinical Development, and transitioned into her current position, Director of Clinical Education, in 2013. As the Director of Clinical Education, Amanda oversees all aspects of the clinical phase of... Read More

Email:  ajohns@upap.utah.edu

Faculty

Jennifer M. Coombs, PhD, MPAS, PA-C

Jennifer Coombs has been a Physician Assistant (PA) for over 25 years. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine Division of Physician Assistant Studies. She graduated from the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP) in 1991. She recieved her undergraduate degree from Colorado College in ... Read More

Email:  jcoombs@upap.utah.edu

Dan Crouse, MPAS, PA-C

Dan Crouse, PA-C, MPAS, is a nationally certified physician assistant. He is an Assistant Professor (Clinical) in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. He graduated from the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program in 1981 and later received his masters degree from University of Utah in Physician Assistant Studies... Read More

Email:  dcrouse@upap.utah.edu

Richard D. Bennett, PhD, MMSc, PA-C

Practice interests include hospital medicine, orthopedics, and sports medicine. Practiced in hospital based medicine in Charleston, WV. Practiced in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Cody, WY... Read More

Email:  richard.bennett@utah.edu

Andrew M. Draper, PharmD, MSA, NCTTP

Andrew Draper, PharmD, MSA, NCTTP joined the Utah Physician Assistant Program faculty in the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah on June 1, 2020, bringing to the Department over twenty-five years of pharmacist experience in ambulatory care, managed care, and academic settings. Dr. Draper is currently an Assistant Professor in the Utah Physician Assistant Program. He currently teaches courses in pharmacology and pharmacotherapy throughout the Program’s didactic curriculum.

Email:  andrew.draper@utah.edu

Amanda Leigh Elrod, MPAS, PA-C

Amanda Leigh Elrod, PA-C, the Associate Division Chief for the Division of Physician Assistant Studies, is a physician assistant specializing in family medicine at the University of Utah, South Main Clinic, a mission based, inter-professional clinic where she also serves as the Medical Director for the family medicine service. She has a strong interest in serving the medically underserved and educating physician assistant students. Prior to working at South Main Clinic, she worked at the University of Utah, Madsen Family Health Center and in primary care at a private practice in Georgia. She has been working with physician assistant students and various other medical/health profession students since 2010. A. Leigh Elrod, PA-C sits on various University of Utah committees and is interested in the development of inter-professional primary care delivery models to serve the medically underserved. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with her family, running, biking, playing golf and watching college football. A. Leigh Elrod, PA-C is currently welcoming new patients at the University of Utah, South Main Clinic. Read More

Email:  leigh.elrod@utah.edu

Constance Goldgar, MS, PA-C

Constance Goldgar, PA-C, MS is a Professor (Lecturer) in the Division of Physician Assistant Studies. She grew up in Chicago and graduated from Grinnell College with a BA in Biology. She attended the Child Associate Program at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center where she received her MS in Child Health. She has worked clinically in the areas of pediatric gastroenterology, adult gastroenterology, and genetic epidemiology. Connie worked as academic coordinator at UPAP in 1993-1995. After a four year hiatus in France, she was recruited back to UPAP in 1999 to head up the new Masters of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) curriculum, which she headed for over 18 years, making its focus evidence-based medicine (EBM). This EBM curricular model has been shared with over 150 PA program faculty nationally and has been incorporated in varied forms into numerous PA programs.... Read More

Email:  cgoldgar@upap.utah.edu

Rodney G. Handy, MBA, PhD, CIH

Rod Handy, MBA, PhD, CIH joined the RMCOEH faculty in the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah on July 1, 2015, bringing with him over twenty-five years of experience in environmental and occupational health and safety. Dr. Handy is currently a Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and the Director of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational and Environmental Health Programs, teaching courses in industrial hygiene and environmental and occupational health and safety. Read More

Email:  rod.handy@hsc.utah.edu

Jacqueline L. Murray, MPAS, PA-C

Jacqueline Murray, MPAS PA-C, is a board-certified Physician Assistant who is currently an Assistant Professor and serves as Clinical Faculty with the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program, St. George campus. Jacqueline completed her Physician Assistant training at the University of Utah and...Read More

Email:  jmurray@upap.utah.edu

Kathy J. Pedersen, MPAS, PA-C

Kathy Pedersen PA-C is a board certified Physician Assistant and an Associate Professor with the University of Utah Division of Physician Assistant Studies. She specializes in family medicine and worked for most of her career at the Community Health Centers in Salt Lake City, Utah. She served as one of the first Clinical Associates at the Utah PA Program. She has been very active with global health initiatives, student international electives, and workforce issues. She served in the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants, passing legislation favorable to Utah PAs during her presidential year... Read More

Email:  kathy.pedersen@utah.edu

Joanne Rolls, MPAS, PA-C

Joanne Rolls, MPAS, PA-C, is a Certified Physician Assistant and an Assistant Professor (Clinical) at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Division of Physician Assistant Studies. She is a Family Medicine PA who serves University of Utah students and patients as a PA educator and Family Medicine PA... Read More

Email:  joanne.rolls@hsc.utah.edu

Darin T. Ryujin, MS, MPAS, PA-C

Darin Ryujin, MS, MPAS, PA-C is the Director of Inclusion and Diversity for UPAP. Darin’s responsibilities as the Director of Inclusion and Diversity include: enhancing the program and university's commitment to diversity and equity by deconstructing intolerance, prejudice and marginalization, while contributing to the equal access, academic achievement... Read More

Email:  darin.ryujin@hsc.utah.edu

Grant R. Sunada, MPH, PhD

Grant has interests in Document Mediating and Moderating Relationships between Social Determinants, Health Behaviors, Provider Behaviors, and Mental/Physical Health Outcomes. Identify and Address Determinants of Health Inequities and Health Behaviors Through Community-Driven Research, Capacity Building, and Systems Change

Email:  grant.sunada@utah.edu

Virginia L. Valentin, DrPH, PA-C

Virginia L. Valentin, DrPH, PA-C is an Associate Professor and Chief of the Division Physician Assistant studies. Dr. Valentin received her a Doctorate of Public Health with a focus in epidemiology from the University of Kentucky in 2017, a Master’s in PA Studies from Barry University in 2007, a BS in Psychology from the University of Utah in 2001 and graduated from Weber State University’s nursing program in 1999. Read More

Email:  vvalentin@upap.utah.edu

Chaz Whitbeck, MMSc, PA-C

Chaz Whitbeck, MMSc, PA-C is a board-certified Physician Assistant who is currently an Assistant Professor and Clinical Coordinator with the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program, St. George campus. Chaz received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Dixie State University...Read More

Email:  chaz.whitbeck@utah.edu