RMC to launch new Doctor of Medical Science program

BILLINGS, Mont., February 10, 2020 - The Rocky Mountain College Board of Trustees and faculty have approved a new Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) program designed for practicing physician assistants who already have their master of physician assistant degrees. 

"The proposed Doctor of Medical Science program elevates our already strong physician assistant studies program and, with its focus on rural health, better positions us to serve the needs of regional communities,” said Provost and Academic Vice President, Stephen Germic. “We cannot overstate our excitement." 

The new program promotes the physician assistant profession through the enhancement of knowledge in leadership, healthcare policy, quality medical delivery improvement, and research. Dr. Heather Heggem, currently Director of the Master of Physician Assistant (MPAS) program, will serve as Founding Director of the new program. Current MPAS faculty member, Adam Mattingly, will take over as Director of the MPAS program.

“Our mission at Rocky Mountain College encourages lifelong learning and academic excellence,” said Dr. Heggem. “As an educator, I was excited to complete my DMSc degree in order to bring that knowledge back to our PA classrooms. In doing so, I realized the exceptional opportunity such a program could offer our PA students. Completing our new 12-month Doctor of Medical Science program will improve their knowledge base, clinical skills, and communication with patients and colleagues. It also allows them to potentially move into leadership roles in clinical medicine and academics.”

Designed for working professionals, the new DMSc program will be offered online and is open to qualified, credentialed physician assistants. The online format further supports the program’s mission of meeting the health needs of rural and underserved populations. 

“We’ll be recruiting high quality medical professionals to teach online,” said Dr. Heggem. “We want our students to practice clinically and fulfill the critical need for providers in rural areas. In order to accomplish that, we couldn’t have them travel long distances back to campus. We anticipate 24 slots for the initial class and 30 slots thereafter.”

The new DMSc program is currently pending accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.