Just forty years ago, most PA programs were not offering a graduate degree—the program I attended only granted an associate degree. Years would pass before the master’s degree became the entry-level credential for pre-PAs.
I graduated in 1987, knowing only a few options were available for PAs. The job market was not nearly as robust as it is now, so I was thrilled to practice medicine and serve patients in a rural setting. It was the start of my dream career. That position paid a robust $17,000 per year.
Four years later, I entered PA education. I considered advancing my education because I did not feel fully equipped to be successful in higher education. At that time there were no DMS or DHSc programs that existed. Therefore, I pursued traditional graduate degrees including my master’s degree in 1993, and finally earned a PhD program in Higher Education Leadership in 2004. I felt I finally had the tools to tackle the challenges of higher education.
By 2017, I’d served in multiple levels of education, including working as a Program Director at four different universities and serving as a Dean and Assistant Provost. I helped facilitate more than 2,000 students entering the workforce as PAs. Throughout these various positions, I witnessed an unfortunate pattern: PA faculty are often treated as only educators, not PAs. They were not getting the specific support they needed. Being a clinician does not prepare you to enter the academic world. The PA degree is a building block, and the clinical experience is the foundation. Advanced degrees such as PhD, EdD, DMS, and DHSc provide the tools to learn the new trade and craft of higher education and research.
This inspired me to co-create a PA education consulting firm, Massey & Martin, LLC, in 2018 to provide better support for PAs working in academics. We’ve worked with more than forty PA programs to ensure they achieve or maintain accreditation. We also provide workshops to equip PA educators with tools to improve student success. Each day, I’m applying what I learned and using the tools I gained from my doctoral degree.
By nature, PAs are nimble and adaptable. We have the ability to turn an experience into an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop new ideas. I did exactly that through my business, and you can, too. Consider what experiences you have had that can be used as an opportunity for growth—or what issue have you come across that you may be able to help solve?
If you don’t feel equipped, consider pursuing a doctorate. Achieving my own doctorate certainly gave me the tools and confidence I needed when it came time to pivot to the entrepreneurial world. Getting a doctoral degree will open a number of opportunities and provide you with the tools to be successful in your own journey. Embrace lifelong learning and be open to new roles that may be unveiled through higher education. Or risk being left behind.
I was a high school dropout, addicted to alcohol, and lacked hope. Now, I have a PhD, teach at the university level, and successfully run two businesses. I know adversity. I know struggle. And I know success.
Now I want to help you unleash the power to transform your life.