Ms. Pedersen’s intent is to raise visibility of the physician assistant profession, and to innovate with academia and other audiences to identify and consider PA-like providers in settings around the world with the goal of reducing inequity and improving health access. Her academic and clinical work, national presentations and PA organization committee volunteerism, international outreach activities, and board service with the Global Health Education Consortium (GHEC)/Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) support this goal.
Ms. Pedersen has been involved with hosting delegations from other countries; exploring and fostering the PA profession; and working with student electives in Honduras, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Nepal, Indonesia, Liberia, the Thai/Burma border, and other countries. A career highlight was helping to create the interdisciplinary Thailand International Elective for PA, Public Health, pharmacy, and medical students. This 4-week rotation exposes students to many impactful experiences in resource-poor settings, including refugee camps and clinics for displaced Burmese, the leprosy hospital, the HIV/AIDS hospice, orphanages, and others.
Serving on GHEC’s (an organization of global health oriented academic physician faculty primarily from U.S. and Canada) board of directors for six years, Ms. Pedersen was successful in creating a liaison between GHEC and PAEA. In Montreal, at the 2011 GHEC Conference that enrolled 1,400 participants from 62 countries, she coordinated a panel discussion on “PA-like” providers and their role in health and wellness around the world. She is currently working with a series of Indonesian physicians who have come to the U.S. to learn best practices in primary care, public health, and occupational medicine.
Starting in 2011, Ms. Pedersen networked within PAEA leadership to promote the development of a PA core curriculum in global health similar to other health disciplines. Recent year-long consultation concerning the health workforce of Nepal led to discussion of curriculum, clinical training, and career development for their Health Assistants, a PA-like provider.
Ms. Pedersen served on the original American Academy of Physician Assistant’s Committee on International Affairs from 1999 -2001. She chaired the first International Affairs Committee for PAEA (then APAP), and created the sentinel “White Paper” on international activities of PA programs in 2003. She has authored articles, book chapters, teaching modules, and presentations related to global health. She authored a module on the “Global Health Workforce and Physician Assistants” as part of the Global Health Education Consortium’s Teaching Modules Project: “Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Global Health Education.” For the last two editions, she contributed a chapter on PAs to the GHEC guidebook on global health training in graduate education.
For PAEA Ms. Pedersen served as technical editor of “Perspectives on PA Education”, the first journal compiling the academic research of PA educators. For the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants (UAPA), she served in the majority of offices, some of which were UAPA delegate to the AAPA House of Delegates, and president during which year her board passed new legislation in Utah. Currently, she is the feature editor of Global Perspectives for the Journal of Physician Assistant Educators, formerly “Perspectives on PA Education.”
At the Utah PA Program (UPAP) where she has worked for 30 years, she serves as a Clinical Associate working with first year PA students in “Tutorial Group”. Students are taught clinical problem solving, evidence-based medicine, history taking, and physical exam skills. For this course and others that she developed and taught, she received a Clinical Teaching Award in 1993.
Through her 30-year career at the Community Health Centers (CHCs) serving the underserved and underinsured, she advocated quality, cost effective patient care, and networked extensively to provide needed patient resources. For her CHC and volunteer outreach work at the Maliheh Free Clinic she received the Humanitarian PA of the Year from UAPA.
Ms. Pedersen served on the Board of Directors for the Physician Assistant History Center and Society for the Preservation of PA History. She assisted with the development of the University of Utah based combat medic statue, a symbol of the roots of the PA profession, and attended the installation ceremony at the Eugene Stead Center in North Carolina.
For the Physician Assistant Foundation (PAF) she served on the selection committee for international humanitarian grants for the PA profession. Many PA related activities are done in tandem with her husband, Don Pedersen (also a PA). The Pedersen Family Foundation established an endowment to PAF of $200,000 to fund international humanitarian outreach activities.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Kathy Pedersen and was submitted to the Society in July 2014. The photographs are courtesy of Ms. Pedersen.