Awards & Scholarships

CAPA recognizes the incredible work our members and our community allies are doing every day in their clinical, administrative, and educational settings. Awardees undergo a process of nomination, review and selection by the Awards Committee. Awards are presented at the Annual Membership meeting, part of the Annual CAPA CME conference.

Interested in learning more about the Awards Committee? Check out more information here.


2022 CAPA Awards Nominations are open!

Do you know a PA who consistently goes above and beyond for their patients or community? Do you know a PA who makes a significant contribution to the clinical education of PA students? Do you know a PA that works collaboratively with the healthcare team and promotes PA Practice? Do you know a student that is dedicated to PA practice in the state of Colorado? Are you a PA student that has demonstrated community service and leadership skills? Does your employer promote a PA-positive environment?

CAPA will recognize outstanding PAs at the 2022 CAPA Annual CME Virtual Conference in early 2022.  Consider nominating a PA, PA student, employer or legislator you know (or self-nominate) for one of the CAPA awards.

PA of the Year:

This award recognizes the PA’s contributions to the profession in the clinical setting and community. Recipient must be a CAPA member. Award will be based on the PA's service to the PA profession, inspiration to colleagues and patients, provision of high quality patient care, professional leadership, and community and volunteer contributions.

PA Educator of the Year:

This award recognizes a PA’s contribution as a PA preceptor or educator. Recipient must be a CAPA member. Award will be based on the PA's support of educational advancement of PA students, promotion of student leadership, evidence of mentoring efforts, involvement in professional leadership activities, and community and volunteer activities.

PA Leader of the Year:

This award recognizes a PA that works collaboratively with the healthcare team and promotes PA practice. Recipient must be a CAPA member. Award will be based on the PA's evidence of mutual respect and trust, teamwork in providing care to patients, team, community or professional leadership, and evidence of team community contributions.

PA Student of the Year:

This award recognizes a PA’s student dedication to the profession in the state of Colorado. The student must be a CAPA member. Nominations will be accepted and awarded based on the PA student's evidence of mutual respect and trust; PA program, community or professional leadership, and involvement in activities that advances or supports the PA profession.

PA Student Scholarship:

CAPA will award up to two (2) annual student scholarships, funds permitting, to a Physician Assistant student in the state of Colorado. Student must be a CAPA member. Applications will be reviewed by the Awards Committee and are based on the PA student's community service and involvement, leadership, academic achievement, goals as a future PA, and letter of recommendation. Financial Need will be considered on an as needed basis.

PA Employer of the Year:

This award recognizes organizations that are top employers of PAs, providing them with opportunities for professional growth and leadership. The award will showcase an employer that has implemented practices that create positive work environments and encourage collaborative provider teams.

Legislative Award:

This award honors a member of the community that through their leadership contributes to

increasing access to high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care. The award recognizes someone who promotes PA practice in the state in line with CAPA legislative efforts.




2021 PA of the Year


Emily Barnak, PA-C

Emily Barnak works at the People’s Clinic of Clinica Family Health, which is the Federally Qualified Health Center providing care to patients with limited resources in Boulder and Adams County. PA Barnak was described as the "gold standard" for compassionate care in a high needs setting. She is a constant inspiration showing empathy, intelligence and resourcefulness. PA Barnak is beloved and respected by the patients she serves and the staff she works with. She exemplifies CAPA’s nomination criteria for aspects of service to the PA profession: inspiration to colleagues and patients, high quality patient care, professional leadership, and community and volunteer contributions. PA Barnak lives these qualities, and her example makes all of her colleagues more dedicated to the profession. CAPA is pleased to award PA Emily Barnak with the PA of the Year award.


2021 PA Educator of the Year


Kelsey Dougherty, PA-C

Kelsey Dougherty serves as assistant professor in the Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program at the University of Colorado in Aurora. PA Dougherty empowers all students to use their knowledge to critically think and problem solve individually or in teams. Through this, no one is ever left to feel like they are not a leader in their own right. Moreover, PA Dougherty is someone that students can go to for scholastic or emotional support given her approachable and warm demeanor. PA Dougherty also encourages students to develop skills as lifelong learners which is also reflected in her own involvement in professional activities. She participates in research involving physician assistant education methods including her article. “Sustaining Curricular Transformation in Physician Assistant Education.” PA Dougherty is a beloved and respected educator in the CHAPA program and her nomination for this award was unanimous for the second year in a row. Congratulations Kelsey on receiving the PA Educator of the Year Award.



2021 PA Leader of the Year


Meaghan Hillman, PA-C

Meagan Hillman has been providing excellent, patient-centered, and evidence-based care for the greater part of 20 years. She has demonstrated a commitment to outcomes, safety and ethical care to both her patients and her colleagues. In addition to practicing clinically, PA Hillman has also provided exceptional leadership in local and state-level capacities. She is a CAPA Past President and was a key member in effecting legislative change in Colorado in 2018. While maintaining full time practice PA Hillman obtained her MBA with a health administration focus. This work in leadership education and her leadership skills landed her “dream job” as the Director of Public Health in Prowers and Kiowa counties. Throughout the pandemic PA Hillman has continued to place patients first in her efforts to mitigate, treat and vaccinate against COVID-19. Collaborative efforts with other local stakeholders were often spearheaded by PA Hillman. This was not been an easy year, professionally or personally, but PA Hillman persevered. PA Hillman's exemplary clinical and leadership skills made her the clear choice for PA leader of the year.



2021 Student of the Year


Stephanie Bradford, PA-S

Rocky Vista University

Stephanie Bradford: is a second year PA student in the Rocky Vista University Physician Assistant Program. Stephanie is an exceptional student who exhibits outstanding knowledge and skills, strong leadership and commitment to the development of future PAs, and excellent professionalism that promotes respect and trust. Due to her mastery of scientific concepts, her excellent communication skills, and her strong clinical abilities, she has become a tutor for first year PA students covering advanced biomedical science and clinical medicine topics. In addition to individual tutoring sessions, she also holds weekly group tutoring sessions for all students who wish to attend. Stephanie has demonstrated a commitment to helping other students her own class as well. She was elected to the position of Class Representative during her first month in the PA program. Stephanie has modeled exceptional professionalism in her interactions with faculty and staff to promote a healthy and open channel for communication. Given Stephanie’s outstanding knowledge and ability, her dedication to the development of future PAs and her exceptional professionalism, Stephanie was selected for the CAPA PA Student of the Year.


2021 PA Student Scholarship



Zach Bohn, PA-S

Colorado Mesa University

Zach Bohn is a second year PA student at Colorado Mesa University and current CAPA student representative. Zach has a proven track record of academic performance, leadership, commitment to his community, and the PA profession. While maintaining a stellar GPA, Zach describes volunteering as his truly rewarding experiences in PA school. He has completed over 165 hours of community service with more than 25 different organizations across the western slope of Colorado. Among the most memorable were assessing health for Special Olympics athletes, delivering Christmas Eve meals to the homebound COVID positive elderly population, and being a medical volunteer at an outdoor camp for kids with serious illnesses. He has also remained an active member of CAPA and was also elected to a national leadership position as a student delegate, in the American Academy of PAs House of Delegates. CAPA is honored to award Zach with the CAPA student scholarship.


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