Dr. Dipu Patel ’21 DMSc, PA-C holds a fairly non-traditional role as a PA currently, working for a healthcare tech start-up. As Director of Clinical Pathways, she oversees the writing of surgical pathways, helping to educate patients about what their surgical experience will look like — both pre- and post-surgery. “As PAs, we are natural educators — we are taught that from the beginning. It’s nice to see a progression, from the face to face interactions that we are accustomed to having as frontline providers, to now, in the digital health space, which is where I think healthcare will continue to expand,” she says.
Dr. Patel states that programs like the DMSc will allow PAs to continue to add value to the healthcare frontlines, and also in the C-suite and the boardroom. “More and more of these types of roles are going to become available for PAs to expand their horizons,” she says. “I have been fortunate to have had this role for a year while I was going through the DMSc program. It was extremely fortuitous to be able to hone my skills through the DMSc program while I was actually doing the work — there was definite interconnectivity between the two roles. I was bringing something from my professional job to the program, and vice versa. It was great to bridge both of those worlds.”
She reflects, “Across the board, whether in education or in hospital organizations, the PA profession needs to learn how to harness technology to better ourselves as a profession”. Dr. Patel’s doctoral project, titled “Digital Health: Ethical and Policy Challenges,” addressed some of these challenges. She continues that Dr. Mark Archambault served as a great mentor during her time in the program, allowing her the flexibility to apply coursework to her unique work setting. “I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Archambault. He demonstrated such a great willingness to allow me to be outside the box and stay creative in our thinking, especially since I am in a very non-traditional PA role.”
Dr. Patel believes that the DMSc is moving the profession forward. She says, “PAs are natural leaders. And this is the mindset that we need to cultivate in the next generation. We need to embed this knowledge from the very beginning into our students. Because it is not a lack of ability or creativity or value that is the limiting issue — it’s a matter of having the chance to showcase the abilities we have to offer as PAs.”
She continues, “I am excited to see what doors this degree will open for me. We should be on equal footing with our other healthcare professional peers and for me, this degree is a step in that direction. We have started down that road, but we are not fully there yet. For anyone that wants to pursue it, I would say go for it!”
When asked what keeps her motivated, she responds, “My kids keep me motivated. Being a single mom, I want to always be the best role model for them and go the extra mile. I want to show my kids that no matter how old you are, you are never too old to learn, you are never too old to love, and you are never too old to lend a hand. And that’s really how I see the PA profession.”
Dr. Patel participated is a 2021 DMSc graduate. She is the 2021 award recipient of the Graduate Doctor of Medical Science Advocacy and Leadership Award, which honors a DMSc student who is actively involved at either the college/university or state/national level, who demonstrates exemplary service to the PA profession by participating in various roles related to PA advocacy and leadership, and who maintains a high level of academic achievement.