PA Doctorate

Hey, Yote Fam! College of Idaho adds the DMSc for PAs

The College of Idaho is the latest to develop a Doctor of Medical Science program for Physician Associates (PAs). 

The new doctoral program will not be a research degree but will have a PhD influence thanks to inaugural program director Kari Bernard, PhD, PA-C, and associate program director Tonya George, PhD, PA-C.

The Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) at the College of Idaho will focus on doctoral-level competencies and will target early-career PAs, helping to facilitate professional identity formation as they step into their provider roles, as well as experienced PAs desiring additional training in the leadership and business of medicine.

Idaho State and College of Idaho Team Up to Train Physician Associates

College of Idaho is no stranger to Physician Associates. The school has teamed with Idaho State University for several years to offer a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS).

Multiple PAthways and Concentrations in the DMSc

The school’s new DMSc program will offer an accelerated pathway for recent PA graduates, PAs currently completing or having recently completed a fellowship, and experienced PA educators. This accelerated path includes a transfer of 12 credit hours recognizing work done in the PA Master’s program or knowledge derived from professional experience.

Early career PAs will benefit from the Strategies for Early Career Success course. Here students “will explore the evidence supporting the benefits of PA-delivered care, common problematic cultural norms in medicine, and how to recognize and overcome them”, says Dr. Bernard. The course also addresses best practices for PA onboarding and promotion pathways. 

The Experienced PA Educator Accelerated Pathway is a one-of-a-kind track is designed exclusively for experienced PA faculty with at least 5 years of teaching experience: “It grants eligible candidates 12 credits of advanced standing for previous professional experience in student instruction and evaluation; and curriculum design, coordination, implementation, and evaluation.”

There will be two concentrations or tracks in the traditional pathway of the College of Idaho’s DMSc program including Health Systems Leadership and Health Professions education. 

Students in the Health System Leadership track will learn the language of the business of medicine as they dive into practical skills such as patient flow, logistics, and shift determination. There will also be a novel focus on PA practice ownership where students will learn about patient retention, satisfaction, provider burnout, and marketing.

Core Curriculum

College of Idaho’s DMSc is built around several core courses based on implementation science which aims to get evidence-based practice and research into the hands of frontline healthcare practitioners. The core curriculum includes courses in research methodology, scholarly writing and publication, leadership, and integrative population health. 

The 36-credit DMSc program is designed to be completed in 2 or 3 semesters, each divided into two 10-week blocks. Students will take only 2 courses per block, totaling 4 courses per semester. There will also be a 6 credit capstone project.

The traditional pathway will award the DMSc after 18 months though certain students may complete it in as early as 9 months. 

Doctoral Advisors from Day One

A unique feature of the program is that “each DMSc student is paired with a doctoral-trained PA from DAY 1 of matriculation into the program through graduation”. As noted on the school’s website, PA doctoral advisors will provide career development coaching and support for work-life-school integration.

The College of Idaho’s DMSc program will run around $26k. Financial aid is available including scholarships for eligible students. While some PAs may be hesitant to take on additional debt, a recent study found that doctoral-trained PAs typically report earnings above the median PA salary.

The College of Idaho Doctor of Medical Science will be fully remote and enroll its first class in July 2024. 

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