Student Spotlight

Karen Norling, OMS-II

Class of 2021

  • Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from Arizona State University.
  • Clubs and Activities: Social Chair and Historian for the Student Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (SAMOPS) RVUCOM-CO chapter. Member of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians (ACOEP) student organization.

Why did you choose RVUCOM? I chose RVUCOM for the curriculum design, welcoming atmosphere, and opportunities to get involved early in military medicine with...
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Faculty Spotlight

Michael R. Wells, PhD

Assistant Dean for the Integrated Curriculum
Professor of Structural Medicine

  • Hometown: Mt. Dora, Florida
  • Undergraduate Studies: Chemistry at the University of Florida
  • Graduate Studies: Medical Neuroscience at the University of Florida

What classes do you teach? I teach Anatomy and Neuroscience. Why did you choose to teach at RVUCOM-SU? I...
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Cathy C. Ruff Receives RVU’s Faculty Innovator Award


Cathy C. Ruff, MS, PA-C, Program Director and Chair of PA Program; Associate Professor of PA Studies

Rocky Vista University (RVU) is pleased to announce that Cathy C. Ruff, MS, PA-C, Chair and Program Director for the new physician assistant program, was awarded the Faculty Innovator Award.

The Faculty Innovator Award was established by Clinton E. Adams, DO, FACHE, RVU President and CEO, in 2017 to honor RVU faculty for their outstanding achievements in academic excellence. Each year, it recognizes a professor who is recognized by his or her peers for their academic discipline, who is highly regarded by the students, who has achieved excellence in service and academic scholarship, and who exemplifies RVU’s core values.

Ms. Ruff was selected for the award for her innovation in developing the curriculum for the new Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree program. Under her direction, it has become the first PA program in the United States to base its entire curriculum on competency using entrustable professional activities (EPAs). She had previously analyzed models used in Europe and by the Association of American Medical Colleges, as well as other professional programs within the country, to create the curriculum in just 26 months.

“This achievement has taken a willingness to push the boundaries of a typical PA program while keeping within the standards for accreditation,” said Dr. Adams. “Even before we have taught the first class, Ms. Ruff has been invited to present her curriculum to a half-dozen medical education societies and universities. Her faculty colleagues here at RVU noticed it too and nominated her for this honor.”

Ms. Ruff earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Cellular/Molecular Biology from Fort Lewis College, followed by a Master of Science degree in Cell Biology from University of Denver. She completed her physician assistant training at the University of Colorado Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program (CHA/PA) in 1996. She has held various administrative, clinical, and teaching positions since 2001. She has been actively involved with the Physician Assistant Education Association since 2004, serving as a peer-reviewer, presenter, and chair of its education council over the course of 13 years. Her professional interests are in curriculum design and program assessment.

Ms. Ruff received the Faculty Innovator Award during the RVU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM) White Coat Ceremony on July 20, 2018.