Follow your dreams | Cheri J.


After high school, I wanted to pursue a job in the medical field and was introduced to the idea of the physician assistant program. I immediately knew that was the direction I wanted for my career, and one of my most significant accomplishments has been becoming a physician assistant.

I completed my bachelor of science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas 27 years ago. UT Southwestern gave me the foundation I needed to begin my career as a PA and offered me the knowledge to build my skills based on the strong desire to care for patients and give them the tools needed to enhance their lives through compassionate care.

I have always strived to work at the highest level available within my profession. After working for many years in clinical settings, I decided to advance my education by completing the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Nebraska. During that time, I wrote “Closing the Gap: Cocaine Addiction in American Women,” which was published in Advance for Physician Assistants. I learned skills critical for caring for all patient populations and gained the ability to research challenging subjects that are important to all patients.

Over the years, I have worked in many settings, including internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, and emergency medicine at inpatient and outpatient facilities. Being able to pivot my career has been one of the most significant aspects of being a PA, and deciding to become a PA educator is another step on that journey. During my clinical practice, I have had the opportunity to work with PA and nurse practitioner students. The excitement of working with aspiring students is energizing, which reminds me of why I went into medicine. The ability to teach medical knowledge and skills and show compassion to patients allows me to use my training and expertise to help the next generation of PAs.

Getting an advanced degree, like the DMSc, is essential for advancing the PA profession by demonstrating the high level of educational abilities of PAs. The Doctor of Medical Science program at A.T. Still University (ATSU) was essential for me and enabled me to continue to grow my skills and training. ATSU enabled me to further my education, work full-time, volunteer, and support my family. The school's faculty showed me all things could be achieved with their support and guidance.

While at ATSU, I published a second article in the Journal of the Academy of PAs about obesity as a chronic disease titled “Physician Assistant Role in Overcoming Barriers to Adult Obesity Care as a Chronic Condition.” Chronic disease management and patient education have been vital for me to develop over my career.

Soon after graduating with my Doctor of Medical Science degree, I was given an opportunity to work at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) as a Principal Faculty. I look forward to working with PA students at LMU. The skills I learned at ATSU have been helpful since starting at LMU.

I will always recommend that PAs follow their dreams and never stop learning.

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