April 14, 2005

Each year, the American Academy of Physician Assistants selects three student researchers to award travel stipends to so that the students can present research posters at the organizationâ??s national meeting in Orlando, Fla., May 28â??June 2. This year, all three were awarded to graduate students from the University of North Texas Health Science Centerâ??s Physician Assistant Studies program.

The AAPA review committee selected Holly Coker, Jeanine DeSocio and Ryan Williams from 133 PA programs that submitted abstracts.Winners receive a $500 travel stipend to attend the conference and are recognized in the event program.

Coker will present her poster â??Attitude of Physician Assistants Toward Nutrition Education and Nutrition Issues Encountered in Clinical Practice,â? which examines the nutrition education PAs have received through their coursework and how comfortable they are with teaching patients about nutrition. Cokerâ??s project advisers are Olive Chen, PhD, assistant professor of PA studies, and Peggy Smith-Barbaro, PhD, director of research and collaborative ventures, Office of Professional and Continuing Education.

Coker is pursuing a master of physician assistant studies and will graduate in May. She earned a bachelor of science degree in nutrition from Stephen F. Austin University and a masterâ??s degree in nutrition at Texas Womenâ??s University. She lives in Fort Worth with her son, Anthony.

DeSocio will present â??What Factors Influence Physician Assistants to Practice in Pediatric Specialties,â? which investigates the factors that influence PAs to enter and leave pediatric medicine. Her project advisers are Dr. Chen and Patti Pagels, PA-C, MPAS, assistant professor of PA Studies.

DeSocio is pursuing a master of physician assistant studies and will graduate in May. She is originally from Norwood, N.J., and earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut. She has lived in the DFW area for more than 10 years.

Williams will give an oral presentation about his poster, â??Teen Pregnancy: The PAâ??s Perception of Their Role in Preventive Counseling,â? which explores the responsibility of PAs in providing counseling to prevent adolescent pregnancy. His project advisers are Dr. Chen and Pagels.

Williams is pursuing a master of physician assistant studies and will graduate in May. He is originally from Big Spring, Texas, and earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Texas Tech University. He currently lives in Fort Worth with his wife, Heather.


Contact: Kay Colley 817-735-2553, cell 817-980-5090, e-mail

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