Gabrielle Poole, DMSc, PA-C, stays busy these days, navigating an online learning environment and directing her team from home. In her role as Founding Program Director for Charleston Southern University’s PA program, she and her team have converted didactic learning for the program’s third cohort of students to an all-online learning environment. They have also arranged a virtual elective for second-year students who began clinicals in January but were pulled out of rotations due to COVID-19 in mid-March. In her spare time, she is also finishing up coursework for her Doctor of Medical Science degree with a concentration in PA Education.
“I never dreamed I would be in the job I currently have. I love my work; I feel fulfilled every day,” she says. PA Poole has an obvious passion for education. She always knew she wanted to work in medicine, and the flexibility of the PA world is what drew her into the profession. “Getting to experience working within many different areas of medicine ultimately drove my decision-making process,” she says. Of her current position as Program Director, she says, “This is where my gifts lie — I love planning, organizing, and leading – it’s been the perfect way to use my degree and also train up the next generation of PAs.”
During this unprecedented crisis with COVID-19, she says reaching out to colleagues to share information and support has been crucial. One DMSc classmate is Jenna Rolfs, PA-C, Program Director for the University of Lynchburg’s School of PA Medicine. “We have been working very closely together. It has been so valuable to have colleagues in the DMSc program — we have been collaborating on strategies, sharing ideas, and supporting each other during this challenging time,” PA Poole reflected.
PA Poole also says that Dr. Mark Archambault, DHSc, PA-C, has been instrumental in her success with the program. She says, “He has provided great insight and feedback to me with regard to developing our PA program and keeping with the guidelines of accreditation. His expertise has been invaluable to me.” PA Poole says that Dr. Archambault encouraged her to pursue the DMSc because it would be a natural next step in her career progression and would complement her day to day job extremely well. “I really wish I had begun the program a year ago — the structure and content of the courses have been incredibly relevant and applicable in preparing us for our second accreditation visit.” PA Poole added, “The networking with other PA educators has also been so helpful. Seeing what others are doing and sharing ideas and experiences has been key.”
Of the DMSc program at Lynchburg, she sees the program as relevant for all PA educators: “As far as increasing understanding of education and teaching, and assessing and evaluating students – you get that in this program. Also, the doctorate degree is often needed for advancement within PA education.”
When asked about her goals for the future, PA Poole commented, “My biggest goal is to earn accreditation continuation for our program. I am 100% committed to training the next PAs entering the field. I love my job.”