1. Why is this degree necessary?
The physician shortage, especially in primary care is real. Despite aggressive efforts to increase medical school enrollments, the physician to patient ratio continues to decline nationally, with the greatest deficits found in primary care. Physician Assistants have graduate training in the medical model and extensive clinical experience. Without the redundancy of traditional medical school, this new training provides the already highly skilled physician assistant with additional knowledge, skills, and competencies to further meet the growing healthcare demand. in just two years and without using ACGME dollars.
2. Really a shortage of primary care physicians in the U.S?
Yes, continued population growth, increased health care access by the affordable care act, and the retirement of an estimated 250,000 physicians, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a projected shortfall of 31,100 primary care physicians by 2025 (www.aamc.org). Additionally, the Primary Care Project estimates 60 million Americans will lack adequate access to primary care by 2025 (the primary care progress.org).
3. Why not simply train more physicians?
Currently, both MD and DO medical school graduates must complete a residency (or postgraduate) training program accredited by the American Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). These programs are federally funded through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Since the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, CMS has limited (capped) the number of allopathic and osteopathic medical residents counted toward funding reimbursement calculations for teaching hospitals. The cap limits the number of residents trained in teaching hospitals (www.aamc.org). Therefore, increasing the number of physicians trained under this model may not be sustainable.
4. Does residency training apply to the Doctor of Medical Science (DMS)?
No, this training model is completely independent of American Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) residency training and CMS funding. The DMS uses a completely new post-graduate training model of combined clinical competencies and physician mentorship for the preparation of a doctoral level health care provider.
5. Is this a Physician Assistant program?
No. Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) has designed and implemented this advanced training specifically for experienced Physician Assistants (PA) to address the primary care needs in Appalachia and beyond. Evaluating its resources and training models, the medical school designed the curriculum.
6. Is this a shortcut to becoming a physician?
No. This is not a shortcut to becoming a physician. In fact, upon completion, the Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) graduate will have no less than seven years of combined clinical experience in medicine and post-graduate training. Rather, this is a mean of advancing an experienced clinician to the doctoral level to address the growing demands of the U.S. healthcare system.
7. Is this an apprenticeship program?
No. The DMS is a doctoral program comprised of academic courses leading to the Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) degree. While continually employed as a Physician Assistant, the DMS student will take online didactic courses supported by periodic on-campus residencies for the purpose of face-to-face training and competency evaluations.
If the student is accepted into the clinical track, there are defined competencies that are agreed upon between the physician supervisor and the course director. The competencies are obtained during employment under the direct supervision of the physician and are required for the degree. Students must successfully pass each required course of study to obtain the DMS degree.
8. What is the difference between obtaining a DMS vs. DO/MD degree?
One must first obtain a master's level PA degree in medicine, pass the PANCE certification exam and have completed three (3) years of supervised clinical practice before applying to the two-year DMS program. The DMS degree allows current PAs an opportunity to obtain advanced knowledge and skills toward a doctoral degree. The DMS training focuses on primary care medicine. Currently, there is no additional legislative scope of practice or certification that come with the DMS degree.
9. What is the curriculum based on?
The DMS curriculum aligns with the six (6) core competency domains of standard medical professions (Medical knowledge; Interpersonal and Communication Skills; Patient Care; Professionalism; Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; Systems-Based Practice) to build on the physician assistant training and medical model.
10. Will there be additional clinical tracks in the future?
The LMU-DCOM DMS program is concentrating upon meeting the primary care need of Appalachia and other underserved regions. This remains the primary focus of DCOM and the DMS program.
11. Why an education track?
With the rapid expansion of medical training programs, the demand for medical educators continues to increase. The DMS graduates from the Education track will have advanced medical knowledge as well as educational training for effective delivery of medical academia.
12. What is the goal of the Doctor of Medical Science?
The goal is to provide the already highly trained and experienced PA an even higher level of clinical skill, knowledge, and competence for the purpose of improving primary care services provided by these individuals. Lincoln Memorial University is in the process of working with various legislators and specialty groups to address practical application of this goal. *
13. Is the program accredited?
Lincoln Memorial University is a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The SACSCOC is the “regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states” (http://www.sacs.org/) and is recognized by Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) which affirms “that the standards and processes of the accrediting organization are consistent with the academic quality, improvement and accountability expectations that CHEA has established” (www.chea.org) . The Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) degree program has been reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees who issued the following statement:
The Board of Trustee of the Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools Commission on Colleges reviewed the materials seeking approval
of the Doctor of Medical Science degree program. It was
the decision of the Board to approve the program and include it in the scope of the current accreditation. Nov 11, 2015.
There are currently no other regulatory bodies to accredit this new program.
*Currently, no state has approved any legislation regarding the practice of a Doctor of Medical Science. While the University is optimistic, it cannot guarantee the success of any legislative efforts.