Why I Did the DMSc | Nathan G


PAs are trained as clinicians, and that is the root of their identity, but what happens when a PA branches out into other career paths? For me, I recognized that holding a job in education does not mean that I know how to prepare and deliver the information that students need to be successful.

I had been looking at doctorate programs casually for several years, but once I entered academia in 2015, I knew that I wanted to get serious about it. I wasn’t sure which degree program would be the most suitable for me. I had looked at Doctor of Health Science programs for a while because that is what a few of my colleagues had gotten. I had looked at degrees in education ranging from ATSU’s DHEd (now EdD), other EdD programs, and even potential PhDs.

I was looking at the programs at ATSU when the DMSc came out as a PA-specific doctoral degree, so I shifted my research to that, but the question that followed was what do I want to get out of it in order to fulfill my goals. The first programs that came out had a clinical focus, but as I was not in full-time clinical practice, it did not make sense for me. I knew there was a difference in what makes a full-time clinician and a full-time educator. I had made the transition from the former to the latter but didn’t have the formalized training to know what to do or how to improve.

ATSU was one of the first programs to have an education track, which fit my needs much more closely. ATSU’s program has started to lay the foundation for the ongoing refinement of my educational skills. The DMSc allowed me to not only expand my general knowledge about the scholarship of being a PA, but also about the training of new PAs in the profession.

When I was accepted, I had this strange mix of excitement and ... well ... terror. Doctoral work has a reputation for being a huge struggle, and I was worried, but ATSU made this whole process manageable. I was excited to get into many of the education courses that were presented.

I had no idea what to expect going in. I thought there would be mountains of obscure information I would need to synthesize and/or research, but in reality, the information presented was useful, relevant, and comprehensible. I have used the information presented a multitude of times in my career, and my capstone project was actually devised and carried out to support my PA program’s decision to drop standardized testing as an admissions requirement.

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