PA Doctorate

The Big Little University of Shenandoah adds the DMS for PAs

Shenandoah University cements its place in the future of the PA profession with its Doctor of Medical Science program.

Shenandoah University is a private, Methodist-affiliated university located in Winchester, Virginia. Founded in 1875, Shenandoah offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide range of fields including health sciences, business, education, and the arts. 

The beautiful Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains sets the scene for Shenandoah University. The location provides students with access to numerous outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and skiing. The town of Winchester offers a vibrant arts and cultural scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues.

The Latest Doctor of Medical Science Program

The new Doctor of Medical Science for Physician Associates (PAs) joins Shenandoah’s other healthcare offerings including nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, and athletic training.

The objective of the new Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) program is to “prepare PAs with the advanced skills needed in today’s dynamic healthcare environment as doctorally prepared clinicians.”

Shenandoah offers the DMS in an online and asynchronous format. The curriculum aims to earn the title of clinical doctorate by “advanc[ing] students’ knowledge in healthcare science, evidence-based practice, health equity, and leadership.”

The program’s website cites a 2019 assessment of PA employers and program directors finding that a doctoral degree for PAs could add credibility to the PA profession. They also claim that doctoral-trained PAs would be more likely to have a voice in administrative and policy discussions.

Shenandoah DMS Curriculum

The 16-credit DMS at Shenandoah will combine with a 14-credit transfer from the student’s PA Master’s degree, bringing the program total to 30 credits

The DMS further advances the idea of an entry-level doctorate for PAs and allows students to complete it in a single semester of full-time work or on a part-time basis spanning 2 semesters or 10 months. The program also allows completion in 2 years, if necessary.

The 16-credit portion includes:

  • Evidence-Based Research – 3 Credits
  • Leadership and Healthcare Principles – 3 Credits
  • Health Equity and Justice – 3 Credits
  • Doctoral Project – 3 Credits
  • Doctoral Capstone – 4 Credits

The 14-credit transfer satisfies the following requirements:

  • Primary Care Clinical Practicum
  • Emergency Medicine Clinical Practicum
  • Surgical Clinical Practicum
  • Inpatient Care Clinical Practicum
  • Community Preceptorship Clinical Practicum

Shenandoah University has a reputation for small class sizes and personalized attention. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, students have ample opportunities to interact with their professors and receive individualized guidance and support. The new DMS program for PAs adds another dimension to their outreach. 

The Doctorate Made for PAs

Dr. Shea Dempsey, DMSc, PA-C, EM-CAQ will lead the DMS program at Shenandoah. Also on faculty is Dr. Michael Asbach, founder and co-host of White Coats of the Round Table podcast. Interested students can begin the program at 3 points throughout the year, Spring (January) Summer (May), or Fall (August). 

Both part-time and full-time students will pay the same $779 per credit hour, bringing the cost of Shenandoah’s DMS to $12,464, although no specific educational tracks have been mentioned. See how this DMS compares to other PA doctorates.

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