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Doctor of Medical Science

Doctor of Medical Science

Unique Entirely Online Post-Professional Doctoral Program For PAs

A.T. Still University’s (ATSU) Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) program provides a PA-specific doctorate degree designed by and exclusively for practicing physician assistants. Offered by ATSU’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS), this doctoral program is the only one providing an in-depth understanding of the elements needed to address the challenges in the U.S. healthcare system today. Different types of doctoral degrees exist for physician assistants, but the DMS can be earned entirely online—without an on-site clinical residency.

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Designed For Practicing Physician Assistants
ATSU’s physician assistant doctorate online is designed for PAs who are currently, or have previously been, certified or licensed to practice as a PA.

Not only can practicing PAs prepare to move forward in their profession, they also become leaders with the insight and expertise to help improve how healthcare is delivered in America tomorrow.

With an asynchronous learning model, the entire physician assistant doctoral program provides highly flexible online learning, which minimizes career disruption while maximizing new opportunities. PAs can continue to practice full time while obtaining their degree.

Bolster Whole-Person Healthcare Within Your Community
The targeted learning model and assessment plan sets this physician assistant doctorate program apart from the typical doctoral program. Students earning their physician assistant doctorate gain the planning, implementing, and analysis skills they will need to positively impact outcomes at the patient, management, community, and system levels. They also attain expertise in blending critical thinking and evidence-based analysis with ethical, legal, and psychosocial considerations to bolster whole-person healthcare in the community.

With an expanded résumé of experience and accomplishments, graduates from this physician assistant doctoral program will have greater influence on the delivery and quality of patient care as a result.

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  • A.T. Still University - Doctor of Medical Science | Dr. Craig Phelps, President
  • Diversity at A.T. Still University
  • Accreditation +

    • A.T. Still University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

      230 S. LaSalle Street; Suite 7-500
      Chicago, IL 60604

      Phone: 800.621.7440 | Fax: 312.263.7462
      Email: info@hlcommission.org

      ncahlc.org

      Degree-granting authority for the Arizona School of Health Sciences has been given by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, 1400 West Washington Rd., Room 260, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Phone 602.542.5709.

  • Career Advancement+

    • Students in ATSU-ASHS’ exclusive post-professional online physician assistant doctorate are practicing physician assistants who want to advance their careers in many exciting areas of healthcare including:

      • PA – Clinical Practice
      • PA – Educational Leadership
      • PA – Industry Leadership
  • Advocating for the PA Profession and the Underserved+

    • PAs with a doctor of medical science become empowered to be a voice for the advancement of the PA profession in healthcare, and for expanding the integration of the PA role within underserved populations as a key to cost-efficient care. They become prepared to take a leadership position in advancing whole-person healthcare, social responsibility, diversity and expanded access to care through forward-thinking health advocacy and promotion at the local, state, and federal levels.

      Graduates with a physician assistant doctorate also gain a greater understanding of how the legislative process affects healthcare policy and study strategies for boosting the role of PAs in improving healthcare care through legislative advocacy. They have the knowledge and insight to develop innovations in PA education to better equip future PAs, and assess PA workforce trends and predictive models to help guide the evolution of this workforce to effectively meet healthcare marketplace demands in the future.

  • NACHC Member Discount+

    • Not only is there a tremendous need for qualified PA leaders now, but more than ever, applying to the Doctor of Medical Science program at ATSU-ASHS also earns qualified National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)-affiliated applicants a 20 percent reduction in tuition upon admission. Both employees of NACHC and employees of NACHC member organizations in good standing are eligible.

Doctor of Medical Science Degree Faculty

ATSU’s PA program has a robust, time-proven curriculum for both residential and online PA programs with a strong faculty experienced in the online delivery of instruction.

ATSU’s PA department currently employs doctorally-trained faculty. These faculty have received graduate degrees through online education, and have taught online courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

  • Dean +

      • Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA, DFAAPA Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA, DFAAPA
        Grey LinkedIn logo

        Dr. Danielsen is dean of the Arizona School of Health Sciences. Since graduating from the University of Utah Physician Assistant (PA) Program in 1974, Dr. Danielsen has distinguished himself as a clinician, PA educator, author, and editor. He received his BS in Health Science (cum laude) from the University of Utah in 1978, his Masters in PA Studies (MPAS) from the University of Nebraska with an emphasis on Internal Medicine in 1997, and his PhD from the Union Institute & University in 2003 with an emphasis on Medical Education. He completed sixteen years with A.T. Still University as academic coordinator (1995-1997), chair of physician assistant studies (1997-2004), and as dean of the Arizona School of Health Sciences (2004-2010) and recently returned as Dean of ASHS. He was honored in 2010 by A.T. Still University with Emeritus Professor status. He has served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and as a board member and chairman for National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

        Earlier in his career, Dr. Danielsen served as president of the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants, the Arizona State Association of PAs, and as chair of the Arizona Regulatory Board for PAs. Retired after 28 years of service in the US Air Force and Army National Guard with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Danielsen also is a former president of the Veterans Caucus of the AAPA and was honored with the Caucus’ Civilian PA of the Year Award in 2003.

        Dr. Danielsen was named Outstanding PA of the Year by the AAPA in 1993 and by the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants in 2011. He currently serves as PA editor-in-chief for Clinician Review. Dr. Danielsen has published over sixteen peer-reviewed articles, eighteen journal editorials, two book chapters, and most recently his first book, entitled The Preceptor’s Handbook for Supervising Physician Assistants, published by Jones & Bartlett Learning. Recently he was selected as a Senior Consultant with the Academy for Academic Leadership.

  • Director +

      • Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA, DFAAPA Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA, DFAAPA
        Grey LinkedIn logo

        Dr. Danielsen is dean of the Arizona School of Health Sciences. Since graduating from the University of Utah Physician Assistant (PA) Program in 1974, Dr. Danielsen has distinguished himself as a clinician, PA educator, author, and editor. He received his BS in Health Science (cum laude) from the University of Utah in 1978, his Masters in PA Studies (MPAS) from the University of Nebraska with an emphasis on Internal Medicine in 1997, and his PhD from the Union Institute & University in 2003 with an emphasis on Medical Education. He completed sixteen years with A.T. Still University as academic coordinator (1995-1997), chair of physician assistant studies (1997-2004), and as dean of the Arizona School of Health Sciences (2004-2010) and recently returned as Dean of ASHS. He was honored in 2010 by A.T. Still University with Emeritus Professor status. He has served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and as a board member and chairman for National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

        Earlier in his career, Dr. Danielsen served as president of the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants, the Arizona State Association of PAs, and as chair of the Arizona Regulatory Board for PAs. Retired after 28 years of service in the US Air Force and Army National Guard with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Danielsen also is a former president of the Veterans Caucus of the AAPA and was honored with the Caucus’ Civilian PA of the Year Award in 2003.

        Dr. Danielsen was named Outstanding PA of the Year by the AAPA in 1993 and by the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants in 2011. He currently serves as PA editor-in-chief for Clinician Review. Dr. Danielsen has published over sixteen peer-reviewed articles, eighteen journal editorials, two book chapters, and most recently his first book, entitled The Preceptor’s Handbook for Supervising Physician Assistants, published by Jones & Bartlett Learning. Recently he was selected as a Senior Consultant with the Academy for Academic Leadership.

  • Chair +

      • Albert Simon, DHSc, MEd, PA-C<br/>Physician Assistant Albert Simon, DHSc, MEd, PA-C
        Physician Assistant

        Grey LinkedIn logo

        Dr. Simon is a PA graduate of the Alderson Broaddus PA program in West Virginia. 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 in the History and Physical Examination sequence.

  • Staff +

      • Linda Wheelis Linda Wheelis
        Manager
        Read Bio Grey LinkedIn logo
  • Adjunct +

      • Jeffrey L. Alexander, PhD, FAACVPR, ACSM-CEP  Jeffrey L. Alexander, PhD, FAACVPR, ACSM-CEP 


      • Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA-C Emeritus, DFAAPA Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA-C Emeritus, DFAAPA


        Read Bio Grey LinkedIn logo
      • spacer image for page layout Patricia Kelly, EdD, PA-C emeritus, MHS


      • Mary Kimmitt Laxton, DHSc, PA-C Mary Kimmitt Laxton, DHSc, PA-C


      • spacer image for page layout Maha Lund, DHSc, PA-C


      • spacer image for page layout Eric Matthews, PhD, MSEd, RT


      • spacer image for page layout Robert "Bob" McMullen, EdD, PA-C


      • spacer image for page layout Isaac R. Navarro, DMD, MPH


      • spacer image for page layout Michael Nowak, DMS, PA-C


      • Albert F. Simon, DHSc, PA-C, M.Ed Albert F. Simon, DHSc, PA-C, M.Ed


        Read Bio Grey LinkedIn logo
      • Joseph G. Weber, DHSc, MBA, MPAS, PA-C Joseph G. Weber, DHSc, MBA, MPAS, PA-C


Doctor of Medical Science Degree Admissions

  • Requirements +

    • The Doctor of Medical Science program is designed to be a postgraduate program for PAs who are, or have previously been (if retired), certified or licensed to practice as a PA. Persons eligible to matriculate in this program would be required to satisfy all of the following criteria:

      1. The applicant is a physician assistant currently (or previously, if retired) certified or licensed to practice as a PA.
      2. The applicant has obtained a master’s degree or higher from a university or college accredited by a regional or national educational accrediting body.
      3. The applicant must submit transcripts from qualifying degree institution(s), to include at least:
        • Transcript showing completion of physician assistant program of study
        • Transcript showing completion of a graduate degree (if physician assistant program did not confer a graduate degree)
      4. The applicant must complete an admissions application, to include at least:

        • A current and comprehensive curriculum vita
        • Non-refundable application fee
      5. The applicant must be fluent in English (the language of instruction of this program). When the applicant speaks and/or writes in English as a second language, the applicant must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores for review.

      6. Acceptable minimal TOEFL scores for ATSU-ASHS applications are:
        • Internet-based total score = 80
        • Acceptable IELTS score is an overall band score of 6.5
        • Applicants who speak and/or write English as a second language who have previously graduated from a college or university accredited by the U.S. Department of Education with a bachelor’s degree (or higher) are exempt from this requirement.
        • Applicants who believe the TOEFL requirement should be waived may petition the Physician Assistant Department chair in writing.
      7. The applicant must be able to meet University technology requirements during the entirety of the doctoral program.
  • Tuition+

    • Application fee: $70

      Tuition: $500 per credit

      Note: All fees and tuition are subject to change.

The Family and Culture


Three medical students wearing white lab coats smiling, posed for a picture. Female medical students wearing white lab coats, smiling while consulting with a patient. Students gathered around a woman lying underneath an x-ray machine. Three medical professionals examining the ear of an elderly man. Physical Therapy students working together. A young woman wearing a white lab coat, talking with a small boy holding a teddy bear. Male medical professional examining a mouth mold. Physical therapy doctor examining the knee of a young woman. Group workshop featuring people seated in rows of chairs with their arms stretched out.

 

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Doctor of Medical Science Curriculum Overview

  • Curriculum Plan Overview+

    • ​The ATSU semester credit hour was developed in accordance with the HLC policy “HLC policy “Assignment of Credits, Program Length, and Tuition”

      DMS Curriculum Overview Semester Hours
      Core Courses (see below) 24
      Education OR Leadership Courses (see below) 12
      TOTAL PROGRAM CREDIT HOURS 36


      Course # Core Courses Semester Hours
      DMSC 7000 Medical Writing 3
      DMSC 7010 Community Assessment & Health Promotion 3
      DMSC 7020 Social & Behavioral Determinants of Health 3
      DMSC 7030 Research Methods in Healthcare 3
      DMSC 7040 Quality Improvement in Healthcare 3
      DMSC 8300 Capstone I 3
      DMSC 8310 Capstone II 3
      DMSC 8320 Capstone III 3


      Course # Education Courses Semester Hours
      DMSC 8100 Adult Learning Theory 3
      DMSC 8110 Curriculum Design & Delivery 3
      DMSC 8120 Educational Technology & Simulation 3
      DMSC 8130 Assessment & Evaluation Methods 3


      Course # Leadership Courses Semester Hours
      DMSC 8200 Organizational Leadership Management & Behavior 3
      DMSC 8210 Health Economics 3
      DMSC 8220 Ethical & Legal Considerations in Health Administration 3
      DMSC 8230 Physician Assistants in Healthcare Policy 3

Core Courses

  • Medical Writing+

    • This course examines, in practical terms, the elements required for successful publication of a journal article or health policy review. This course encourages good writing skills through choosing better words, writing better sentences, and preparing better tables, graphs, and photographs. All students are required to develop and submit a quality paper that meets the requirements for publication in a peer-reviewed professional or biomedical journal. The learner will demonstrate the ability to effectively organize and structure information in written form.

  • Community Assessment & Health Promotion+

    • This course will introduce the Community Health Assessment (CHA) as a key component of evaluating the broader community health improvement process. Students will learn to objectively analyze community health data to identify priority issues, develop and implement effective health promotion strategies, and measure the effect of community health initiatives on a variety of community health indicators. Students will be exposed to current methods for conducting a community needs assessment. Discussions will center on choosing strategies that are culturally sensitive, clinically appropriate, and cost-effective.

  • Social & Behavioral Determinants of Health +

    • This course will serve as an introduction to the social, cultural, behavioral, and economic factors that influence health status and population health interventions. The practitioner will improve insights on populations they have worked with or those they may work with in the future.

  • Research Methods in Healthcare +

    • This course will describe qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research methodologies and the proper selection of methodology based on the research question. Additional topics include conducting a peer-reviewed literature review, critical analysis of study results and research methodologies, and ethical considerations in human subject’s research. A variety of data collection and analysis strategies will be reviewed.

  • Quality Improvement in Healthcare +

    • This course will include components of The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) curriculum to prepare students to lead the development and maintenance of quality management in clinical and business settings. Students will develop foundational fluency in methods of healthcare data collection and industry-standard metrics of clinical quality and patient safety. Implementation analysis of quality improvement PDSA cycles, root-cause, and systems analysis will also be reviewed. Through team-based learning, students will explore how quality metrics enable evidence-based clinical and business decision-making.

  • Capstone I +

    • This three-course series is designed to instruct the learner in the process of developing and conducting an applied research project. The applied research project will be designed to target a problem in either clinical practice, the PA professional sphere, or PA education. During the capstone course sequence, the learner will work closely with their faculty advisor as they progress from conceptualization to completion of the research project. In Capstone I, the learner will apply methods from the Research Design in Healthcare course to develop a proposal for their applied research project. The student will also conduct a literature review around their chosen applied research topic.

  • Capstone II +

    • This three-course series is designed to instruct the learner in the process of developing and conducting an applied research project. The applied research project will be designed to target a problem in either clinical practice, the PA professional sphere, or PA education. During the capstone course sequence, the learner will work closely with their faculty advisor as they progress from conceptualization to completion of the research project. Capstone II will focus on the collection and analysis of data.

  • Capstone III +

    • This three-course series is designed to instruct the learner in the process of developing and conducting an applied research project. The applied research project will be designed to target a problem in either clinical practice, the PA professional sphere, or PA education. During the capstone course sequence, the learner will work closely with their faculty advisor as they progress from conceptualization to completion of the research project. Capstone III focuses on the final preparation and submission of a quality product targeted at publication in the healthcare literature or presentation at a state or national level meeting. Each final applied research product will be reviewed and graded by the learner’s faculty advisor.

Education Courses

  • Adult Learning Theory +

    • Effective and efficient teaching requires an understanding of how adults learn. This course examines the learning process, particularly as it differs for adults. Topics include theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, humanism, constructivism, and social and adult learning; major learning style theories; andragogy versus pedagogy; and motivation for learning as it applies to informal and formal education and training. Utilizing this basis, students will examine how to apply these theories to the design, implementation, and assessment process.

  • Curriculum Design & Delivery +

    • This course will introduce students to methods and best practices for medical education curriculum design and prepare students to be conversant in the foundational research literature of education for adult students. Students will design systems-based learning modules within their medical specialty. An introduction to psychometric principles will prepare students to create high-quality assessment items.

  • Educational Technology & Simulation +

    • Computers, simulators, and even smartphones have become ubiquitous in education both in and outside of the classroom. This course will present best practices in utilization of technology in teaching and provide the learner the opportunity to learn course management through an LMS, develop familiarity with audience response technology (e.g., clickers), develop competence in office productivity software for common educational tasks, and explore hardware and software essential to producing asynchronous curriculum delivery and assessment (e.g., webcam, interactive publishing). Simulation is recognized in healthcare education as an effective way to teach and assess skills and behaviors. This course will teach the student how to create high-quality healthcare simulation programs, introduce the research behind simulation best practices, provide students with a template for effective simulation, and give students a basic understanding of the simulation process as it applies to healthcare education.

  • Assessment & Evaluation Methods +

    • This course will describe best practices for measurement and assessment in education. Topics will include the role of measurement and assessment in teaching, instructional goals and objectives, validity and reliability, classroom tests and assessments, standardized tests, and interpretation of assessment scores and norms. Learners will develop instructional objectives, a variety of assessment items and assessment formats, and will construct rating scales, rubrics, and interpret assessment psychometrics.

Leadership Courses

  • Organizational Leadership Management & Behavior +

    • This course will provide the learner with an understanding of how perceptions and thinking influence behavior in the workplace, and the skills necessary to manage conflict and lead change in teams, organizations, community partnerships, and health initiatives in their role as a physician assistant. Strategies for creative problem solving, communication and improved management practices will be explored.

  • Health Economics +

    • Economics is a major influence in shaping health policy in the United States. An effective healthcare leader must be fluent with the basic health economic theory to guide their organization. This course will discuss such topics as demand, supply and market equilibrium, scarcity, risk aversion, moral hazard, adverse selection, quality of care and pay for performance to provide the student with a grasp of the market forces on the U.S. healthcare system.

    • This course will provide an overview of the principles of medical ethics (autonomy, beneficence, and justice) and ethical theory. The discussion will review the ethical challenges faced in healthcare and health administration, the ethical requirements of human-subjects research, the right to privacy and the ethical decision-making process. The responsibilities and boundaries of the patient-healthcare provider relationship and the conflicting demands of providing quality care with limited resources will be addressed, as will the relationship and responsibilities of healthcare providers to society. Case studies will be included to develop ethical reasoning skills applicable to daily practice.

  • Physician Assistants in Healthcare Policy +

    • This course will explore the evolving role of the PA in the structure of the current U.S. healthcare system; the challenges of access, cost, and quality; and the process of healthcare policy development. The evolution of healthcare reform will be used to illustrate the development of healthcare policy, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The impact of the ACA on PA practice, patient healthcare access, cost, and quality and projections for the future of the ACA will be analyzed.

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HLC seeks third-party comments about ATSU

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) is seeking comments from the public about the University in preparation for its periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). How to submit comments.

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