Roderick Hooker, PhD, MBA, PA

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Roderick S. Hooker has researched the medical workforce across many decades going back to 1980. He is an author of over 250 publications; mostly in peer-reviewed literature. His scholarly work includes four books, many book chapters, and numerous reports and presentations. Physician Assistants: Policy & Practice (4e), which he co-authored with James Cawley and Christine Everett, is required reading for physician assistant students and is a valuable resource for those interested in the origins, education and employment of physician assistants. Hooker’s research interests are in the fields of medical economics, health policy, workforce issues, and clinical rheumatology. Consulting on medical staffing, education, and medical care organization has taken him to various countries, such as Canada, Australia, Scotland, Taiwan, and the Netherlands. Hooker is a supporter of the PA History Society and has donated his personal collection of reprints, manuscripts, dissertations, reports, books, uniforms, memorabilia and other related items to the Society’s Archive, Library, and Museum Collection.

Before graduating from the St. Louis University Physician Assistant Program in 1978, Hooker served as a Hospital Corpsmen in the U.S. Navy aboard ship in Southeast Asia, and Camp LeJeune Marine Corps Base with the Second Marine Division and Navy Hospital (1965-1969). Training as a tropical biologist, Hooker worked in Costa Rica as a graduate student. Following Costa Rica, he served in the U.S. Peace Corps, Kingdom of Tonga (South Pacific) from 1973 to 1976. He holds an undergraduate degree (BA, 1972) from University of Missouri, a PA Certificate from St. Louis University, and graduate degrees (MBA, 1985) from City University, Seattle, WA and a PhD in health policy (1998) from the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University, Portland, OR.

For two decades, Hooker worked as a rheumatology physician assistant with Kaiser Permanente and concurrently as a health services researcher with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in Portland, Oregon. There he honed his skills in organizational research, workforce research, strategic planning, and policy analysis. His mentor was the late Jane Cassels Record, author of the first systemic studies of PAs. While in Oregon Hooker served as a Coast Guard Reserve officer and a medical administrative officer; he retired with 24 years of accumulative military service.

After leaving Kaiser Permanente, Hooker worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Dallas, Texas and the University of Texas where he developed and directed a health services research division in rheumatology. Hooker also served as an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health at the University of North Texas, as well as a consultant to the Ministry of Health in Ontario and New Brunswick. He also was a visiting professor at the University of Queensland from 2004-2009. He has served as a member of the Planning Committee of the International Medical Workforce Collaborative. This work expanded his collaboration with various countries interested in PA development. In addition, he served on the American College of Rheumatology Committee on the Workforce.

Dr. Hooker received The Recognition of Excellence Award from Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region in 1988 and a Research Achievement Award in 2002 from the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (now the Physician Assistant Education Association). Other awards of recognition include the first recipient of the Breitman-Dorn Fellowship Award through the AAPA, the Patron of the Profession by the University of Utah, and the 2011 PA Roll Call Honoree by the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants. In 2008, Dr. Hooker appeared before the Senate Committee on Health to discuss opportunities to increase access to care with PAs and nurse practitioners. Several of the suggestions he mentioned were to create incentives for PAs in uniform to relocate in underserved areas upon discharge and for the military to pave the way for medics and corpsmen to become PAs — an idea adopted by the White House in 2011.

In 2010, Hooker joined The Lewin Group as a Senior Director overseeing health policy and health professions research. His team contributed to forecasting supply and demand of primary care providers, endocrinologists, optometrists, oncologists, dieticians, and other providers in the federal and private sectors. While working with the Lewin Group, he was concurrently an adjunct professor in The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

For Hooker, the Holy Grail is to understand the optimal staffing arrangement for all forms of healthcare delivery and where the greatest effectiveness of staff-mix lies. If team-based care is the byword of organizational research, then scientists and policy makers need to know what configurations of providers will produce the best outcomes of care at the least expenditure of time, effort and cost, and without compromising the safety of the patient. To this end, he has mentored 11 doctoral students, 6 postdoctoral fellows, and numerous graduate students. He is retired and lives in semi-rural Southwest Washington State.

Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Roderick Hooker with the assistance of Reginald Carter, and was submitted to the Society in September 2012. It was updated in February 2019. The portrait photograph is courtesy of Dr. Hooker. The second photo is from the AAPA Photographic Collection, Physician Assistant History Society, Johns Creek, GA.

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