Kimberly Gaines ’10 chose Shenandoah University because of its Division of Physician Assistant Studies’ strong curriculum and Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) pass rate.
Gaines is an emergency medicine physician assistant with the United States Navy in Jacksonville, North Carolina. She works in the emergency room of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune (NMCCL), which has recently become not only the first Level III Trauma Center in the United States Navy, but the first trauma center in the Navy to service local community trauma patients. The trauma center’s presence at NMCCL is vital to Onslow County and Eastern North Carolina, where the closest trauma centers for decades have been more than an hour away in driving distance.
In 2018, Gaines was nationally recognized for earning a specialty credential called a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Her CAQ was in emergency medicine, a distinction earned by meeting licensure, education and experience requirements and then passing a national exam in the specialty.
“Certified PAs who earn the CAQ demonstrate a strong commitment to lifelong learning and attention to evolving medical advancements in their area of practice,” says Dawn Morton-Rias, Ed.D, PA-C, president and CEO of NCCPA. “Not only have they maintained certification through continuing medical education programs and assessments throughout their careers, they have pursued and been awarded this additional credential that attests to their knowledge and skills in their specialty.”
The most rewarding experiences Gaines has had in her career are supporting the new Level III Trauma Center, qualifying to teach Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support courses, certifying for the Emergency Medicine CAQ, and moonlighting in a rural emergency room.
Gaines says Shenandoah’s Division of Physician Assistant Studies, “truly prepares you for the PANCE and the workforce.” Her education from the university gave her a strong base in history and physical exam skills.
Gaines’ advice to students is: “Get the most out of your clinical rotations and do things you’re afraid to do.”
Written by Harley Ryan ’16
Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs