Betsy Melcher, M.S., ATC, MHS, PA-C, assistant professor, serves as an academic coordinator for the Duke Physician Assistant Program. She completed a master’s degree in sports health care at the Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2000 and practiced as an athletic trainer at N.C. State University prior to attending the Duke PA program.
- Years at Duke: 9
- Clinical focus: Family Medicine and Sports Medicine
- Where you can see her next: Melcher and PA colleagues across the country will publish educator competencies for the PA profession in 2019.
"I really enjoy looking at curriculum design and thinking about new ways to deliver content in the classroom that engage learners and prepare them to transition from the pre-clinical to clinical phase of their education."
When Melcher graduated from the Duke Physician Assistant Program in 2005, she never anticipated returning to traditional, classroom-based education. Instead, she was focused on honing her clinical skills as a newly-minted PA. She began working at a family medicine practice in Raleigh, NC, where she also precepted students from PA programs across North Carolina, including Duke.
Meanwhile, the Duke PA program was going through a period of change. In 2009, the curriculum was revised, and many senior faculty members were preparing for retirement. As a result, they wanted to ensure that they “passed the baton” to a new generation of faculty members who could successfully continue their efforts into its next era.
With ties to the program, as well as clinical practice and teaching under her belt, she was a great potential addition to the faculty. However, it was her earlier experience in sports medicine that made her the perfect addition.
“My master’s program placed a strong emphasis on preparing its graduates to work in a teaching environment,” Melcher says. “But, when I made the transition to PA ... my content expertise sort of aligned with what the program needed. It was a new venture for me, but it ended up being a great fit.”
Since joining the faculty in 2010, Melcher has played a significant role in both the academic and clinical education of Duke’s PA students. Melcher’s responsibilities include scheduling, curricular assessment, program development, and teaching across a variety of topics including orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and critical care. She is also a co-organizer of an annual interdisciplinary adaptive sports experience for Duke’s PA, MD, and Doctor of Physical Therapy students. Melcher is also heavily involved with the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), and through this organization has led workshops for PA educators across the country.
“While there are some exceptions, most clinicians who end up in PA education weren’t trained specifically to be an educator,” Melcher says. “So I’m actively involved in the process [of educating PAs to be educators] through the opportunities provided by PAEA.”