PA Partnership Secures National Kidney Foundation Grant

PAs to Study Patient Interactions Following Kidney-in-a-Box CME

March 26, 2018

By Abby Boshart

PAs Marlene Shaw-Gallagher and Rebecca Boyle are the first PAs in the history of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to be awarded a research grant from the organization.

Shaw-Gallagher serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy and as a nephrology PA at the University of Michigan Medicine. Boyle is a PA at the Stanford Hypertension Center in Stanford, California.

Marlene Shaw-Gallagher
PA Marlene Shaw-Gallagher

The 2017 NFK Research Grant will provide funding for the team to evaluate sustained behavioral change resulting from the use of Kidney in a Box (KIB), a chronic kidney disease (CKD) performance improvement CME (PI-CME) for non-nephrology PAs and NPs.

The PA team says their research would not have been possible without the strong connections they’ve made throughout their careers, and the support they’ve received through professional organizations.

“The best thing I did was networking and getting involved with different councils,” Shaw-Gallagher said.

Boyle and Shaw-Gallagher joined NKF in search of more opportunities to be involved with their profession. What they found was a unique funding opportunity and invaluable mentorship from PA Kim Zuber.

As an experienced researcher and an active member of NKF, Zuber has always been eager to guide her fellow practitioners. She was recently appointed to serve as Research Chair of NKF’s Council of Advanced Practitioners and was also a member of the research team who first studied the effectiveness of KIB in 2015.

The American Academy of Nephrology PAs (AANPA) and National Institutes of Health’s National Kidney Disease Education Program (NIH/NKDEP) developed the KIB PI-CME in 2013 to increase identification and management of CKD in non-nephrology practices. The CME outlined the scope of CKD and six interventions known to slow the progression of the disease.

Rebecca Boyle
PA Rebecca Boyle

In 2015, the first KIB study analyzed data from 300 practitioners who had received the KIB toolkit. The study found that providing educational materials to non-nephrology providers increased the use of five out of the six interventions at the end of a three-month period.

Boyle and Shaw-Gallagher have asked the same providers to reevaluate their patient interactions three years later.  They will compare their findings to data collected before and three months after KIB to determine if these behavior changes have been sustained.

When the PA team applied for the research grant, they were unaware that no PAs had ever received funding from NKF.

“It made me wonder what other opportunities we can make headway into in terms of research and advancing the education of PAs,” Boyle said.

Pursuing research opportunities and grant funding are an important part of elevating both one’s career and the PA profession as a whole.  Boyle stressed that seeking support is vital for any PA who wants to pursue research of their own, and that PAs need more individuals like Zuber who are willing to guide fellow PAs and notify them of the professional resources that are available.

“There isn’t a lack of qualification. We should be encouraging PAs with research interests and making them aware of opportunities, as well as providing more institutional support,” Boyle said.

The PA team will present the results of their study at NKF’s Spring Clinical Meetings in 2019.

To find CME similar to KIB, check out AAPA’s Fun with Kidneys: The Bundle, designed to educate non-nephrology PAs about CKD.


Abby Boshart is the communications coordinator at AAPA. Contact her at [email protected].