Arizona School of Health Sciences
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Physician Assistant

Physician Assistant

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Who We Are : Program and Guidebooks : Faculty and Staff : Students and Alumni : Didactic and Clinical Year Overview : Admission : Tuition and Financial Aid : Profession : Fact Sheet


Bruce Badaglialacqua, D.O.
Medical Director

Dr. Badaglialacqua (“Dr. B.” for short) is a graduate of Michigan State University-College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his internship at Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital in Michigan. He’s practiced family medicine in Michigan and Arizona. Currently, he is the director of student medical education for the Kirksville based ATSU D.O. school, and he is the medical director of the PA program.

Gary Smith, MD, FAAFP
Medical Director
Dr. Smith is a graduate of Ross University School of Medicine. He completed a family medicine residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and currently practices family medicine. He serves the department in both didactic and clinical aspects.

Albert Simon, DHSc, PA-C
Program Chair and Director

Dr. Simon is a PA graduate of the Alderson Broaddus PA program in West Virginia.  He brings 37 years of PA education experience and leadership to the program.  Prior to ATSU, he served as chair of the St. Francis University PA Program in Pennsylvania.  His clinical practice experience includes internal medicine and occupational medicine. In addition to administrative duties, he teaches Introduction to Patient Assessment and the History and Physical Examination sequence. 

Bob McMullen, Ed.D., PA-C
Director of Assessment, Technology and Research
Dr. McMullen is a 1988 PA graduate of University of Texas Medical Branch. His clinical experience is in emergency and family medicine. He is the medical director of the PACH clinic, a free clinic where students receive experience caring for underserved people. In addition to his administrative duties, he teaches Anatomy, Pharmacology and Clinical Integration.

Jim Burkett, M.S., PA-C, DFAAPA
Director, Advanced Physician Assistant Program

Mr. Burkett is a PA graduate from the Community College of Allegheny County and an APA graduate of ATSU. He also completed a PA Surgical Residency. His 35 years of clinical experience include interventional radiology, surgery, occupational and emergency medicine. In addition to his administrative duties, he teaches ethics and medical simulation classes. He is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Health Science program.

Gerry Keenan, MMS, PA-C

Mr. Keenan is a PA graduate of St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania. His 35 year clinical background spans sites throughout the US (including Appalachia, Bush Alaska, and an island off the coast of Maine) and includes family medicine, emergency medicine, neuro-trauma, surgical care, remote and rural primary care, women’s health, and school health/sports medicine. He currently directs and provides community medical services through the ATSU event medical services team.  His teaching focuses on clinical seminars/skills/integration, and body-mind-spirit seminars.

Linda MacConnell, MPAS, MAEd, PA-C

Ms. MacConnell is a PA graduate of University of Oklahoma/USAF program. She completed a PA residency in Otolaryngology, and has 30 years of clinical experience in Primary Care and Otolaryngology. She has also holds a Master of Education from the University of Phoenix. She is an instructor in the Clinical Medicine series and oversees Didactic Year Clinical Experiences. Linda has presented regularly at the Arizona and national PA conferences.

Cody Black, MHS, PA-C
Mr. Black graduated from the University of South Alabama with a Master of Health Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Prior to completing the Physician Assistant program, he obtained an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He has been in education since 2013 and in his role at A.T. Still serves as the Director of Didactic Education. Before joining A.T. Still University, he was on faculty at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Clinically his practice experience includes urgent care, internal medicine, and sleep medicine.  He is a member of the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants (ASAPA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

Sara Wilson, MPAS, PA-C
Ms. Wilson is a PA graduate of A.T. Still University and currently practices in allergy and asthma. She has previously worked in ENT, sleep medicine and internal medicine. She teaches in the History and Physical exam lab sequence along with various didactic lecture presentations.

Linda Knutson, MS, ME.d., PA-C
Ms. Knutson is a PA graduate of the inaugural Physician Assistant class of A.T. Still University.  Her clinical experience is primarily in emergency medicine, which includes Lead PA positions for two large, professional emergency medical groups. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Mountain Park Health Center, an Arizona nonprofit whose mission is to provide affordable quality healthcare to the community it serves.  Ms. Knutson is an instructor in Clinical Medicine and Clinical Skills. 

Danielle L. Kempton, DHSc, MMS, PA-C
Director, Postgraduate Certificate in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health
Dr. Kempton is a PA graduate of Midwestern University, and a Doctor of Health Science graduate of A.T. Still University.  She has 11 years of experience in urgent care and emergency medicine.  She is the director of the postgraduate certificate in psychiatry and behavioral health program.  She is active in the Physician Assistant Education Association. 

Ray Pavlick, Ph.D.
Dr. Pavlick began teaching physiology and pharmacology in the PA program in 1997.  He also teaches in the ATSU osteopathic medical school.  He has published articles in journals such as General and Comparative Endocrinology, The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, and The Journal of the Medical Library Association. He has also authored chapters in various textbooks in both physiology and pharmacology.

Michelle DiBaise, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

Dr. DiBaise is a PA graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a Doctor of Health Sciences graduate of ATSU. She brings 30 years of clinical and education experience to the faculty. Her clinical experience includes dermatology, oncology, pulmonology, urology and orthopedic surgery. She teaches clinical medicine topics in the didactic year. She is active in national PA organizations including PAEA, AAPA, and the NCCPA.

Tessa Tibben, MS, PA-C
Director of Clinical Education
Ms. Tibben is a graduate of the AT Still PA program and she brings seven years of family practice background. She is passionate about the Programs mission and has served Arizona's local refugee population for 10 years. Currently Ms. Tibben is enrolled in the Doctor of Health Sciences program. where she is taking classes with an emphasis on global health.

Kimberly Gilmer, MS, PA-C
Clinical Coordinator

Ms. Gilmer is a graduate of the Rosalind Franklin School of Medicine and Science in Chicago, IL. Her clinical experience is in family practice and she serves on the clinical team.

Jennifer Feirstein, MSPAS, PA-C
Ms. Feirstein is a 2004 graduate of the Arcadia University PA program.  Her clinical background is in family medicine, in which she continues to practice once weekly.  She is a Clinical Coordinator and Assistant Professor, teaching in the Women’s Health module and History and Physical Exam courses.  Ms. Feirstein has served in numerous leadership positions for both state and national PA organizations (ASAPA, AAPA and PAEA).  Additionally, she coordinates an annual charity 5k run benefiting the Batten Disease Support and Research Association.

Annette Bettridge MS, PA-C, FNP

Ms. Bettridge is a graduate of Stanford Primary Care Associate Physician Assistant and Family Nurse Practitioner Program and the A.T. Still Advanced Physician Assistant Masters program. Her 12 years of clinical experience includes primary care, occupational and behavioral medicine. Her teaching focus is in the psychiatry and behavioral health program.

Managers and Staff

Linda Wheelis
Manager, Advanced Physician Assistant Program
Linda Wheelis started working with the Advanced Physician Assistant (APA) program in March 2003 and has been the manager since 2005. As the manager, she runs the day to day operations of the online APA program working with faculty and students from admission through graduation. She also assists with the residential program. Linda holds a bachelor degree in Management from the University of Phoenix. She has served on the University Staff Council as the representative of the Arizona School of Health Science, and received the 2013 Distinguished Service Award for our university campus. 

Cindy Becerra
Manager of Clinical Education
Ms. Becerra works on the clinical team and with students during their 2nd year clinical experiences, managing day-to-day operations, student placement requirements, student needs, and administrative duties. Additionally, she works in the community with preceptor relations and site visits.

Bonnie Trahan
Assistant to the Chair
Ms. Trahan has been with the ATSU Arizona School of Heath Sciences since 2005 and is currently the Assistant to the Chair.  In addition to administrative duties, she organizes the admissions process and departmental events.

Ashley Purviance, MA, JD
Portal Manager
Ms. Purviance graduated from the Roger Williams University School of Law and worked as an insurance defense attorney in Boston, MA before joining the A.T. Still PA program.  She works with department administration to gather and analyze program data and maintain accreditation and policy compliance.  She also works closely with didactic year students, organizing and scheduling clinical shadowing experiences and lecturing on relevant medical-legal topics.

Corey M Cooper, BS, EMT
Educational Support Specialist
Mr. Cooper is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He has worked as a technician in radiology, emergency medicine, and laboratory settings, and conducted research in social support and mindfulness. He currently supports student and program assessment and scheduling for the didactic component of the residential PA program.

Courtney Brown McGauley, MPA
Administrative Assistant, Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Program
Ms. McGauley earned a Bachelor in Biochemistry from Oakwood University and a Master of Public Administration from Troy University. Mrs. McGauley provides administrative and academic support to the Psychiatry & Behavioral Health (PBH) Program.

Janell Somers, BS
Clinical Education Assistant

Ms. Somers works with the clinical team.  She processes clinical year student rotation paperwork and assists students throughout their clinical year.  She processes preceptor paperwork and manages data. 

Adjunct Faculty

Ian McLeod, M.Ed., M.S., ATC, PA-C 
Director of Didactic Education 
Mr. McLeod is a 2008 PA graduate of A.T. Still University and holds a Master of Education in Athletic Training from the University of Virginia. His clinical experience is in primary care and sports medicine. He teaches in the clinical medicine series.


Phil Merrill M.Ed, PA-C
Mr. Merrill is a PA graduate of University of Oklahoma/USAF program. He also holds a Master of Education in Educational Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. He has 33 years of clinical experience in primary care, urgent care, and gastroenterology. He is an instructor in the History and Physical exam sequence.

Mark Fischione, M.D.
Dr. Fischione is a graduate of the American University of the Caribbean Medical School. He completed a residency in pathology and a fellowship in forensics. He is a forensic pathologist, serving the community as a medical examiner. He teaches the pathophysiology sequence.