School of Medicine

Physician Assistant Studies - Research & Scholarship


Jenny Coombs
Jennifer Coombs, PA-C, PhD

Jennifer Coombs, PA-C, PhD researches rural and underserved healthcare. Dr. Coombs dissertation assessed the workforce capacity of physician assistants in Utah. This was collaborative work with the Utah Medical Education Council (UMEC) and the Physician Assistant Workforce Advisory Committee who was involved in the collection and analysis of the PA workforce data. Dr. Coombs received the only research scholarship award from the Physician Assistant Foundation, Breitman-Dorn Endowed Research Fellowship. The Breitman-Dorn Endowed Research Fellowship was established to provide financial assistance to doctoral candidates who are making a contribution to research on the influence of PAs in medical care. She received the Article of the Year award and Researcher of the Year award from the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).  Read More

Research Interests: Rural and underserved healthcare

Rod Handy
Rodney G. Handy, MBA, PhD, CIH

I joined the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah on July 1st, 2015 bringing with him over twenty-five years of experience in environmental and occupational health and safety. Dr. Handy received his AAS and BS degrees from Purdue University (1981/1983), an MBA from Ball State University (1989), and a PhD in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida (1995). He has been certified in the comprehensive practice of industrial hygiene (CIH) since 1999. Rod's past industrial experiences have included five years as an engineer with Ford Motor Company and two years as an electromechanical technician with a small, computer floppy diskette firm.  Read More

Research Interests: Occupational Health; Environmental Health; Emergency Preparedness & Disasters

[Current Funded Research]      [Recent Publications]

Joanne Rolls
Joanne Rolls, PA-C, MPAS

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

Research Interests: Health Professions Education & Mentoring; Primary Care Research; Quality Improvement in Healthcare; Health Disparities; Community Engaged Research

[Current Funded Research]

Darin Ryujin
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

Research Interests:

[Current Funded Research]      [Recent Publications]

Virginia Valentin
Virginia L. Valentin, DrPH, PA-C

My overall research goal is to improve patient health outcomes through understanding the role of physician assistants within the health care team. My research on Physician Assistant role has focused on the barriers to PA utilization through understanding the impact of state scope of practice on both graduates and employed PAs. My work with PA students focuses on community-engaged research to teach students the basics of research and how to integrate their clinical work with community health.   Read More

Research Interests: Health Professions Workforce; Health Professions Education & Mentoring; Qualilty Imporvement in Healthcare; Community Engaged Research

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