APAO Academic Award

APAO Academic Award Criteria 

The Academic Award is open to PAs in oncology who are pursuing an advanced degree or certification program.

Recipients of the APAO Academic Award will receive a one-time monetary award to apply toward the cost of academic tuition and offset educational expenses.

Scholarship Information

  • Up to $2,500 scholarship will be awarded 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Graduate of an accredited PA Program
  • Work in an oncology setting as a PA
  • Member in good standing of APAO
  • Enrolled in or applying to an advanced degree or certification program
  • The award cannot be given to the same individual more than once

Award Recipient Requirements:

  • Award monies will be dispersed upon proof of program acceptance
  • The recipient must matriculate in to their program within 1 year of award notice
  • The recipient must complete his or her degree/certification within three years of award disbursement
  • APAO should be notified of any address changes

Personal Statement:

In 500-750 words, please tell us how you plan to use your advanced degree/certification to further your professional career and your contributions to advance the oncology PA profession. 

Letter of Recommendation (LOR):

Include only one (1) original letter of reference on official letterhead from a Healthcare Professional, who can attest to your capability of advancing the Oncology PA profession and your ability work in a clinical/research setting in the field of Oncology. Please have the evaluator electronically submit the letter of reference directly to [email protected] or mail to APAO – Academic Award, 222 S Westmonte Dr., Suite 111, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714 in a sealed envelope. If the letter is e-mailed, it must be sent from the evaluator’s e-mail address. Scanned copies are accepted.

  • Name of Evaluator
  • Position
  • E-mail
  • Phone number


Interested PAs should submit a completed application form to APAO to be considered for the award.


CLICK HERE to apply  

2023 Winner

Amber Shahid, MPAS, PA-C

Amber Shahid is a Thoracic Surgical Oncology Physician Assistant at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston, TX. She began her career as an internal medicine PA after graduating from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in 2016, and joined MDACC in 2018. Amber is currently the APP manager in the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, overlooking several physician assistants and nurse practitioners. She has been instrumental in many thoracic service line initiatives including the development of a multidisciplinary clinic and APP navigator role, as well as creating an APP staffing model and leading the efforts with a care team transformation project. She enjoys advocating for the PA profession and actively mentors pre-PA and PA students. She is passionate about providing safe, efficient, and compassionate care to her patients and often participates in quality improvement projects to enhance patient care and improve patient outcomes. Ms. Shahid is currently attending the University of Lynchburg and plans to complete her DMSc degree in December 2023. 

2022 Winner

Catherine "Katie" Largent,  PA-C, CPAAPA

Katie is a Physician Assistant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, TN. She specializes in Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy. She has been practicing as a PA for 11+ years. Within her current role at VUMC, she provides care for SCT and CAR-T patients in an inpatient setting and in an outpatient transplant unit that functions as a day hospital. She was instrumental in further developing a multidisciplinary CME-accredited education lecture series for aspiring transplant physicians, fellows, residents, APPs, nurses, and pharmacists. She currently is acting as co-chair of the SCT & CAR-T Professional Development Committee which is the first of its kind at VUMC’s cancer center. Additionally, Katie has created a structured Educational APP Onboarding Program with the goal of providing an educational standard for all newly hired practitioners within her specialty. Beyond her work within VUMC’s cancer center, Katie has been a preceptor of PA/NP students and residents since 2019. In March of 2022, she was accepted as a member of the AAPA Clinical Preceptor Recognition Program for her efforts in PA education. She has been an adjunct faculty member with 3 different PA programs since 2020 providing clinical medicine lectures and conducting history & physical and procedural skills labs. Her biggest passion beyond caring for the cancer patient is educating future practitioners.  She is currently enrolled in a DMSc PA Post-Professional Education Certificate Program at A.T. Still University with plans to complete her doctoral degree in clinician education. 

2021 Winners

Steven Wei, MS, MPH, PA-C

Steven's passion has always been to invest quality time and energy in people’s lives. After serving over 20 years as a clinical PA and APP supervisor in surgical oncology, he is now shifting his attention toward promoting the APP profession through education and APP career development. More specifically, his goal is to investigate, develop, train, and coach leadership skills pertinent to APPs in team-based practice in the era of value-based health care. Steven's hope is to one day develop a Leadership Academy or Institute designed to equip and empower APPs with the necessary skills to optimize health care team practices and make a lasting impact both within and beyond the APP profession.

Steven is currently completing his doctoral thesis on “Collaborative Practice Teams in Oncology: Examining the role of psychological safety and its relationship with clinician well-being among advanced practice providers.” Through this study, he hopes to further examine the leadership factors and dynamics involved in team-based practice and how APPs can develop into optimal team practitioners as leaders in patient-centered care.

Kathleen Boyle, PA-C

Kathleen Boyle is a Physician Assistant (PA) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s (DFCI) Gastrointestinal Cancer Center based in Boston, Massachusetts. Ms. Boyle holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies from Fordham University. She holds a Master of Science in medical studies from Yale University School of Medicine. Prior to joining DFCI, she was an Emergency Department PA at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s St. Raphael’s Campus Emergency Department and a Thoracic Oncology Service PA at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia Medical Center. At DFCI she has held roles in the inpatient medical oncology unit, the thoracic medical and surgical oncology divisions, and the gastrointestinal medical oncology division. Ms. Boyle is currently a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University. 

Shamsah Lakhani MPH, PA-C

Shamsah Lakhani is Manager at the Northwell Health Center, Monter Cancer Center in New Hyde Park, NY. She has 24 years as a Physician Assistant in clinical practice specifically in oncology care, caring for patients with breast cancer. She leads a 35+ team of Physician Assistants and nurse practitioners across five medical oncology ambulatory sites. Shamsah is responsible for understanding factors driving performance to develop and implement analytical metrics, optimize revenue generation, and engage in quality improvement projects, with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes.

Shamsah also explores ways to impact the treatment of those patients that are not directly under her care. She is passionate about clinical research leading to high quality health outcomes and setting up pathways providing equitable care and clinical trial options for marginalized patients. She believes we have the obligation to provide today’s patients with cutting edge cancer care and clinical trial options, to develop the treatment of tomorrow, and at the same time cultivate a culture of innovation and engagement. Shamsah received her BS in Physician Assistant Studies at SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn and an MPH at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Health Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences so she can continue to innovate in clinical and administrative roles and to impact the future of cancer care delivery. 

Russcina “Cina” Dixon, PA-C

Cina has been a Physician Assistant with the Transplant & Cellular Therapy program at the Levine Cancer Institute - Atrium Health for about six years. She started off rotating between inpatient and outpatient setting with the malignant hematology team providing care for patients diagnosed with Leukemia, Lymphoma, or Multiple Myeloma. Currently, she cares for post allogeneic stem cell transplant patients in the Leukemia clinic by monitoring for transplant complications, graft-vs-host-disease, infections, and disease relapse. She also provides clinic coverage for sick visits, hospital follow-ups, and pre-chemotherapy hospital admissions. She performs bone marrow biopsies to help diagnose and monitor hematologic conditions. Function as sub-investigator for Phase I-III oncology clinical trials, and trains and mentors Advanced Practice Providers during their hematology/oncology rotations. She is Fellowship trained in general pediatrics, with previous experience in Information Technology in various areas including programming, data analysis, data warehouse management, and reporting.

Joy Mullins, PA-C

Joy is an oncology Physician Assistant specializing in Melanoma, Renal, and Merkel cell carcinoma. In addition, she is a member of the cancer center's protocol review committee. Building relationships with patients and helping them through treatment makes her job very rewarding.