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Jennifer M. Coombs, Ph.D., PA-C, M.P.A.S.

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments: Family & Preventive Medicine - Associate Professor (Lecturer)

Divisions: Physician Assistant Program

Academic Office Information

(801) 585-7626

University of Utah Physician Assistant Program
375 Chipeta Way, Room: Suite A
Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Board Certification

  • National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

Research Interests

  • Physician Assistants
  • Public Health

Jennifer Coombs has been a board-certified physician assistant (PA) for 30 years. She graduated from the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP) in 1991. Before PA school she received a BA from Colorado College in psychology and became a Licensed Midwife (LM) in the state of New Mexico. She obtained her Master in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) in 2001 and her PhD in Public Health from the University of Utah in 2011.

She began practicing as a Physician Assistant in family practice at Northwest Community Health Centers (now Steven D. Ratcliffe). She practiced there for over 14 years with a special emphasis in Vietnamese and Laotian Refugees. She received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants (UAPA) in 1992 and 2006.

She has been involved nationally in the PA profession, serving on committees and as a frequent contributor to several national blogs, including a series in the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) networker on publishing dissertations in scholarly journals, the teacher evaluation process, getting unstuck from blocked writing, and tips on the doctoral dissertation defense. She has been a reviewer and on the executive board of the Journal of the American Academy of PAs—where she has written about rural health care, international health care, and commentaries on health services research. Currently she serves on the Executive Board of the School of Medicine Alumni Association and Chair of the Communication Committee that publishes quarterly the SOM Alumni magazine called Utah Med.

Her research interests include rural and underserved health care both in Utah and internationally. She has been involved in medical outreach to India, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Guatemala. Her teaching includes women’s health, the Pelvic and Breast Exams and Evidenced Based Practice courses.

Research Statement

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).

Education History

Doctoral Training University of Utah
Public Health
Graduate Training University of Utah
Physician Assistant Studies
Professional Other University of Utah
Physician Assistant
Undergraduate Colorado College