Professor Emeritus, University of Utah School of Medicine
Dr. Pedersen has been involved with Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP) since 1979, initially serving as Academic Coordinator. He was the Program Director from 1989 to 2010 after attaining a faculty appointment in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine (DFPM) in the University of Utah School of Medicine. He was founding Chief of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies. Dr. Pedersen retired as an emeritus professor in 2011, and has authored over 70 articles and book chapters relating to clinical practice and physician assistant education.
Under Dr. Pedersen’s leadership UPAP became a graduate program in the School of Medicine offering the Master’s of Physician Assistant Studies degree. Nation-ally, he is a past President of the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP, now the Physician Assistant Education Association, PAEA) with 4 years of service on the Board of Directors and in 1998 he founded the Associations official journal Perspective on Physician Assistant Education (now the Journal of Physician Assistant Education).
He served as the journal’s editor and publisher for the initial seven years. He also created the Association’s Research Institute, which provides small grants for educational research by PA program faculty on a national level. During his tenure with the Association he established a liaison position with the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and served in this capacity for two years. He also represented the Association as the liaison to the Global Health Education Association.
Dr. Pedersen has served as the President of the Physician Assistant Foundation (PAF), the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). He completed eight years of service on the PAF Board of Trustees and was awarded Emeritus Trustee status. Through the PA Foundation, he and his wife, Kathy, established an endowed grant program in honor of Don’s father to award international humanitarian outreach grants to PAs and PA students. Since 2005, grants have funded over 35 projects in 15 countries on five continents. He completed 10 years on the state of Utah Physician Assistant Licensing Board, serving two years as chair.
He served on the Board of Directors of the NCCPA Health Foundation. He helped pioneer the Utah PA Program’s international clinical activity with student rotations in Papua New Guinea and Thailand and served on the AAPA International Working Group. Following the 2004 tsunami, Dr. Pedersen traveled to southern Thailand as a volunteer, serving 3 weeks helping identify the dead through DNA samples. He worked with the Thai military at Wat Yan Yao, a Buddhist temple where the makeshift morgue was established and approximately 4,000 bodies were processed.
In 1998 he was voted Outstanding PA Educator of the Year by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and received the President’s Award from the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP). In 2007 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Medical Association. In 2009 he received the Research Achievement Award from the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). In 2010 he received the Outstanding PA of the Year Award from the AAPA. In 2011 he received the Global Health Excellence and Leadership Award by the University of Utah. PAEA honored him with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" in 2018. He received a "Distinguished Service Award" from the University of Utah School of Medicine in 2019.
Don currently volunteers as a physician assistant at the Hope free clinic in Salt Lake City and also pursues international opportunities for PAs and PA students. In 2015, he provided relief after a Nepal earthquake through Project Hope. He has served as senior advisor for Global Partners since 2011.