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Rocky Vista University Names Debra Nickell, PhD, PA-C, as the Founding Program Director for Physician Assistant Studies

May 3, 2016
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RVU Names Debra Nickell, PhD, PA-C, as Founding Program Director for Physician Assistant Studies

[May 3, 2016] Rocky Vista University (RVU) is pleased to announce that Debra Nickell, PhD, PA-C, has been named Founding Program Director of the Physician Assistant (PA) program.

“The ability for RVU to attract leaders like Dr. Nickell is a testament to the academic growth and leadership RVU enjoys,” said Clinton E. Adams, DO, FACHE, President and CEO of RVU. “Dr. Nickell's diverse leadership and academic experience will build on the strong foundation that Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM) has established. The Physician Assistant program will greatly augment our team-based medical education experience essential to prepare our graduates to practice in today's health care delivery system. RVU's mission "to provide quality healthcare education while inspiring students to serve with compassion, integrity and excellence" will undoubtedly be enhanced by Dr. Nickell's leadership.”

Dr. Nickell previously worked in clinical research for pharmaceutical companies and in hospital administration before becoming a clinically practicing physician assistant. She has also served as the executive director for a grant-funded program, in which she marketed evidence-based pharmacotherapeutics to physicians and, later, joined the faculty of University of Kentucky’s PA program. Prior to being selected as Founding Program Director, she served as program director at the Red Rocks Community College's PA program—the first community college in the United States to offer its own master’s degree.

“I am honored to join the Rocky Vista University family and am excited to have the opportunity to build a physician assistant program from the ground up,” said Dr. Nickell. “Establishing an effective physician/physician assistant team is foundational to the PA profession and RVU has exceptional resources that will allow our PA students to experience interprofessional education from day one of their matriculation. Our graduates will be clinically competent and compassionate leaders who are prepared to provide quality healthcare in a collaborative patient-centered environment.”

Dr. Nickell received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Agriculture and in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Dallas. She also holds a PhD in Health Communications from the University of Kentucky.

A physician assistant is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional. PAs practice medicine on health care teams with physicians and other providers. They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states. Rocky Vista University anticipates launching its PA Program in 2018.

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