The University of Lynchburg has partnered with the American Academy of PAs to allow more PAs to earn doctoral degrees.
The Lynchburg Doctor of Medical Science is the newest degree option in the degree pathway program offered by AAPA’s Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management. PAs who take prerequisite CHLM courses will qualify for a tuition discount for the DMSc.
The Lynchburg DMSc, the first PA-specific doctorate available to civilian PAs, launched in 2017. The program prepares PAs to lead in health care with a background in administration, clinical work, and research.
“This is a unique postgraduate program that is designed by PAs for PAs,” said Jeremy M. Welsh, chair of the School of PA Medicine and senior associate dean of the College of Health Sciences. “The curriculum reflects the extensive education that we each have completed. It builds from there to promote advocacy, scholarship, and leadership within each course.”
The Lynchburg DMSc faculty includes national PA leaders who want to see the PA profession advance and meet market demand, Welsh said. The one-year program is taught online, but it also includes clinical education in the clinics where PAs already practice. Online courses cover health care administration, health law, and other areas of instruction that help PAs advocate for the profession and provide leadership.
About 320 students are currently enrolled in the DMSc, and new cohorts start quarterly. More than 200 PAs who have completed the program recently or will complete it soon will graduate on May 17. Jonathan Sobel, president of AAPA, was a member of the first graduating class in 2018.
Welsh said many DMSc students and graduates have already leveraged their education to advance to new positions in health care. It also has helped them develop a more holistic view of health care systems.
“Many of our graduates say that their doctorate taught them how to think critically and look at the problems we face in a ‘macro way’ versus the ‘one patient at a time’ way they did before,” Welsh said.
“Obtaining a doctoral education is a very important accomplishment and PAs who attain it have added a significant knowledge base. Completing a terminal degree that educates you in health care law, administration, global health, and scholarly research will open numerous doors for clinically-practicing PAs, educators, and administrators.”
Welsh said the DMSc has done well because of its focus on PAs. “We’ve had very strong support since we started,” he said. “It has really gained momentum. PAs are very proud of being PAs. Many have said, ‘I want a PA-specific doctorate.’”
The DMSc is one of several degree pathway programs offered through CHLM. To qualify for a tuition discount in the Lynchburg DMSc program, students need to first complete eight one-hour CHLM prerequisite courses such as Billing and Reimbursement, Critical Factors of Leadership, and Evaluating Your PA/NP Workforce. Students can then matriculate to an eligible graduate or post-graduate program with a CHLM partner such as the University of Lynchburg.
For further information, email Welsh at firstname.lastname@example.org, or read the AAPA announcement of the degree pathway program.