Dr. Ritsema is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Public Health (MPH) and the Emory University School of Medicine (MMSc for Physician Assistant training). She holds a PhD from the University of Nebraska School of Medicine in Health Workforce Research. Her areas of research interest include the development of the PA profession in the United Kingdom and in other countries around the world, as well as general Physician Assistant workforce research in the United States.
Dr. Ritsema is a leading researcher on the development of the PA profession in the United Kingdom. She has published a number of studies and white papers documenting the growth of the profession. She has also published papers designed to address commonly raised questions about PA practice in the UK. She is regularly invited to speak at US and international PA research conferences. She regularly publishes her work in the peer reviewed literature.
Dr. Ritsema also was recognized for her knowledge of PA education and for her writing and editing abilities when she was invited to become the editor in chief of Physician Assistant: a guide to clinical practice, 7th Ed in 2018. This textbook is the major textbook used in PA education. It has 62 chapters and more than 80 contributors. Dr. Ritsema coordinated a team of three senior editors and three associate editors to develop the 7th edition. This book will be available for purchase in the fall of 2021. She edited 14/62 chapters and authored five.
Dr. Ritsema has a passion for teaching. While primarily responsible for teaching in research/ EBM, Neurology and clinical skills, she teaches in many classes across the PA curriculum due to her generalist experience as an Emergency Medicine PA. For example, she taught 3/9 sessions in the Emergency Medicine section of Clinical Specialties course in 2021, and other sessions in Orthopedics, Pulmonology and Infectious Diseases. For the last few years, she has taught a redeveloped course on the role of the Physician Assistant in the US Healthcare system, capitalizing on her extensive public health and health policy training.
As a graduate of the GW Master Teacher program, Dr. Ritsema often develops novel classroom exercises that are more interactive than the standard lecture. In general, these sessions are highly rated by her students. Dr. Ritsema was recognized for teaching excellence by the Class of 2018 by being awarded the Golden Apple Teaching Award. She is also interested in service-learning and led groups of GW students to serve as volunteer vaccinators against SARS CoV2 in the Spring of 2021.
Dr. Ritsema has served extensively with the Physician Assistant Education Association. Starting in January 2022, she is serving as the chair of the PAEA Grants and Scholarships Committee which reviews grants for all PAEA funding activities. She served seven years as a member of the Journal of Physician Assistant Education Editorial Board. In that capacity, she has served as peer-reviewer, trained other peer-reviewers, and has advised the editor regarding policies and procedures for the journal. She also is one of the originators of the PA Educator's Research Fellowship, a program which provides 3 PA faculty per year the opportunity to obtain 20% protected time for research and to work under established researchers developing projects to address key questions in PA Education. Dr. Ritsema runs a workshop on the development of a research agenda each year for the AAPA/PAEA Research Fellows.
In early 2019, Dr. Ritsema, along with colleagues from GW and in collaboration with researchers at US Acute Care Solutions, won the largest research grant offered by the Physician Assistant Education Association. The research team is using the clinical dataset from US Acute Care Solutions to assess the marginal productivity of PAs in more than 170 emergency departments around the country. Due to federal restrictions on billing for PA services, assessing clinical productivity for PAs and NPs is very challenging. Partnering with USACS has allowed us to assess the contribution of PAs to emergency medical practice across the United States. This team has published two large scale studies comparing the quality and efficiency of care provided by PAs/NPs to that provided by doctors. Both of these studies will be influential in both the scientific literature and the policy arena.