Senior Physician Assistant
Veterans Administration Medical Center
Class of 1974
Delmer Lee Shelton was born and raised in Dunbar, a coal mining community in Virginia. He left high school early to go to work, but soon joined the US Navy to become a hospital corpsman. During a second tour of duty, he attended the U.S. Navy Advanced Hospital Corps (Independent Duty) School and the U.S. Navy Deep Sea Diving School, graduating with honors. Upon discharge from the Navy, Mr. Shelton came to the Duke University Medical Center to work in the F. G. Hall Laboratory Hyperbaric Unit. He continued to work for Duke until his retirement in 2001. As a member of the hyperbaric unit staff, he and four companions established a world record for saturation diving that he and two other colleagues later broke on a second dive. Mr. Shelton continued to work at the hyperbaric unit during the time that he was a part time PA student. After graduation from the Duke University PA program, Mr. Shelton helped develop the unit’s clinical program, serving as the Hyperbaric Medical Coordinator until 1993.
Mr. Shelton became professionally active as a student member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and has continued to be actively involved in physician assistant professional affairs. He has served as a member of the AAPA House of Delegates since 1983. He is a charter member of the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and has been a leader in the state organization, holding multiple offices and serving on a numerous committees. Having served three terms as President of the NCAPA, Mr. Shelton is credited for helping develop and maintaining a positive and collegial relationship between the NCAPA and the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS). As a member of the PA Advisory Committee of the North Carolina Medical Board, he helped write the current PA Practice laws for North Carolina. He chaired the first NCAPA Continuing Medical Education Conference and has continued to serve as a member, chair or co-chair of the conference planning committee. Mr. Shelton was recently elected to the national Veterans Affairs Physician Assistant Academy and has helped establish the Durham VA Physician Assistant Council.
In 1995, Mr. Shelton was recruited by the Chief of Surgery at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (DVAMC) to establish the Ambulatory Surgery program. The Short Stay Unit of the DVAMC provides a very efficient, cost effective program that facilitates greater that eighty percent of the VA surgical cases. Since the unit was opened the PA staff has grown to four full time members.
Mr. Shelton is a recipient of the Duke University PA Program Distinguished Alumnus Award (1991) and the AAPA House of Delegates Outstanding Service Award (1993). He has been especially honored to have had the opportunity during the past 10 years to assist Dr. Eugene Stead, Jr., founder of the PA Program at Duke, with visits and trips to various institutions and organizational meetings.