Collegian file photo.
OLIVIA KLAFTA | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Butler University’s new Doctor of Medical Science degree program is set to launch in January 2020. The program, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, will be one of five in the nation. Students in this post-professional physician assistant doctorate degree program will be able to complete the course entirely online.
To enroll in the DMS program, a student must have already graduated from an entry-level PA program and hold a National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants certification or state PA license.
Students who complete Butler’s six-year PA program, which earns them a Master’s degree, could pursue their DMS degree and earn a doctorate degree.
Kylie Falteisek, who is in her first year of PA school at Butler, said many students in the PA program are interested in the DMS degree but are still taking it one step at a time.
“I think that people in our class were excited to hear about it, but I don’t think anyone is 100 percent,” Falteisek said. “First I’ve got to finish this [PA degree], and then I’d probably work for a while. It’s just a nice opportunity that they are giving us.”
Development for the DMS program began in 2017. Jennifer Snyder, director of the DMS program, said it was created to diversify the number of programs offered by the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
“We started to think about the types of programs we wanted to offer additionally,” Snyder said. “This was one of the programs that floated to the top. It’s certainly consistent with our vision and mission of the college: to educate physicians assistants, lifelong learning, creating scholars. So it’s very consistent with what we had set out to do with our strategic plan.”
The DMS program is made up of 17 modules that cover four focus areas: foundational sciences, medical sciences, patient populations and patient safety, and business and leadership.
The module-based program can be started during the fall, spring and summer semesters to be accessible to students who want to continue working while getting their DMS degree. Each semester holds two starting points. Students will take about nine semesters to complete the program if they complete two six-week modules per semester.
Dean of COPHS Robert Soltis said students will expand their knowledge of the profession at all levels to widen their understanding of healthcare. Soltis believes the flexibility the program provides for students is one of its greatest assets.
“We didn’t want to burden them with ‘if you want to get this degree, you have to stop working,’” Soltis said. “If you went full time as a student with classes on campus, it would be difficult for them to keep doing their work. The online option felt like that was the most viable way to keep people in their practice but to give them a chance. We’re talking about working adults.”