LaBarbera recognized as Rosalind Franklin Distinguished Alumnus


CHICAGO — On Sept. 9, the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science presented its annual College of Health Professions Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dawn LaBarbera, Ph.D., PA-C, director of Trine University’s emerging Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.

The award was given as part of the fifth annual RFU Fest, held at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. LaBarbera is only the fourth recipient of the award.

She earned a Master of Science in physician assistant studies from Rosalind Franklin University, then called Finch University, in 1994, earning the university’s Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. She helped drive the early growth and development of RFU’s physician assistant program, joining the faculty in 1996 and serving over the next decade in numerous capacities, including assistant professor, assistant program director and coordinator for admissions, research and clinical education.

In presenting the award, Donald Frosch, LaBarbera’s mentor into the profession and PA education, noted that LaBarbera’s “dual career as a PA and an educator of PA students has improved the health and shaped the professional lives of so many.”

“It’s always been about pushing toward a healthier future for Dr. LaBarbera, who has championed interprofessional education and collaborative practice in every place she has treated patients, taught students and led programs,” Frosch said.

LaBarbera has practiced clinically throughout her career and has served as a part-time family practice PA since 2013 with Lutheran Medical Group in Fort Wayne, where she has initiated PA student research projects and clinical rotations.

She led the development of the Fort Wayne Area Interprofessional Education Consortium, which offers interprofessional education activities to graduate students in member organization programs and has expanded its reach to health professions students throughout the region. She is an original member of the Community Research Consortium, hosted by the Fort Wayne Medical Education Program, a forum for collaborative, innovative, community-based research.

A Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, LaBarbera has served frequently as the group’s national conference moderator, a representative to their House of Delegates and is a past member of its Career Companion Task Force. In addition, she played a role in improving the PA practice act in the state of Indiana.

A prolific presenter, lecturer, and expert in curriculum development, she is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and nearly 40 poster presentations.

Photo: Dawn LaBarbera, Ph.D., PA-C, center, director of Trine University’s emerging Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, stands with Donald Frosch, left, her mentor into the PA profession and PA education, and James Carlson, vice president of interprofessional education and simulation for Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and her former student, after she received RFU's College of Health Professions Distinguished Alumnus Award.