Dr. Gairola received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Kentucky in 1975 with a major in demography and a minor in psychology. She was appointed to the faculty in the then Physician Associate Program at the University in 1980. She became Professor Emeritus when she retired in August 2018. Her teaching within the program has focused primarily on behavioral science, geriatrics, medical ethics and master’s projects. During her tenure, she has contributed to the education of over 1,200 students. In addition, for the past eight years, Dr. Gairola has offered an education abroad program for UK students from multiple disciplines. This program focuses on health and care of older people in Great Britain.
During her tenure as a faculty, she served as department chair and as Director of Graduate Studies for the Physician Assistant Studies Master’s Degree Program. Because of her interest in rural health she was instrumental in establishing a rural satellite campus at Morehead State University. She has served as a consultant for multiple federal agencies, including the Advisory Council for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health; the Office of Human Development Service, the National Center for Health Services Research and Health Care Technology; the National Health Service Corps, the Bureau of Health Professions, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She also served as a consultant for the US Department of Labor regarding employment and training for rural health providers. In addition, she has served as consultant to several universities regarding interdisciplinary health care training in rural areas.
Dr. Gairola’s scholarship has focused primarily on utilizing physician assistant and other health providers to improve rural health services, especially in underserved areas of Appalachian Kentucky. Since joining the University, Dr. Gairola has participated in numerous federal grants designed to improve rural health services. She has been the direct recipient of over 3 million dollars in federal grants as either principle investigator or project director. Her publications include articles in the American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Community Health, Population Index, OB/GYN News, Family Planning Perspectives, Human Organization, Family Planning Perspectives, Dental Hygiene, Generations Review, Journal of Allied Health, International Journal of Inter-professional Care, Sociological Abstracts, and others. She has also provided services to professional organizations, including the Physician Assistant Education Association, Journal of Rural Health and the Journal of Allied Health.