Leading the Way | Kim Stokes, DMSc, PA-C
Kim Stokes, DMSc, PA-C, is the Director of the Physician Assistant Studies program at Elon University. A native of Ashe County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC, Kim attended undergrad at Lenoir Rhyne University where she majored in Biology and graduated in 1999.
Kim was inspired to go into medicine by a variety of factors. As a child, she had some congenital health issues and spent a lot of time in medical offices and hospitals. Her father was also a paramedic and owned his own ambulance service. Through these experiences, Kim knew she wanted to go into medicine. She took a course to become a CNA and worked with PAs, ultimately leading her to PA school. Kim went to East Carolina University, which at the time offered a bachelor’s in Physician Assistant Studies. Yet, through a grant with Duke University, students could also receive a dual master’s in health science at the same time. She graduated in 2003 from ECU’s Physician Assistant Studies program and also with an MHS from Duke University.
Kim joined NCAPA as a student member and remained a member after graduation due to NCAPA’s variety of educational offerings. And though her initial motivation for membership may have been the Winter and Summer conferences, Kim now also understands and appreciates the advocacy that NCAPA does on behalf of PAs and the profession in North Carolina. She hopes that PAs “continue to forge relationships in the medical community to foster improved outcomes for patients and their families” and feels strongly that the medical team “should all be focused on the patient, the best plan of action to achieve the patient’s goals, and how we can work together to accomplish that goal while supporting the patient and family.”
As a clinician, Kim has practiced in primary/urgent care, surgical oncology, and geriatrics, but considers primary care her “home.” She began precepting students in her first year of practice and, after a few years, began providing guest lectures at the ECU PA program. When Kim found herself at a transition point in her career, she jumped at an opportunity in academia. As a clinician, she worked hard to “advocate for patients, listen to them, care for them, be the best provider possible for them, and provide evidence-based care.” Kim didn’t necessarily want to leave those patients but saw a way to amplify those skills through educating an “entire cohort of students who can go out and provide that type of care as well.”
Last year, Kim completed a DMSc with a concentration in PA education from the University of Lynchburg. She wanted to understand more about the foundations of PA education and “to learn more about leading and growing in this academic space.” With a hope for professional growth, Kim applied for the program director position and began at Elon in her current role in January of 2021. She doesn’t have time for clinical practice at present, but continues to affect change in PA education. When asked what her favorite aspects of her role are, Kim shares
I love that I get to come into an office where there are extremely talented educators and witness how they bring material to life in their classrooms. I love encouraging their growth and bringing the efforts into the light. I enjoy being part of something that allows for advocacy for students, patients, populations, communities, and our profession. It’s amazing to me that small decisions made related to PA program admissions can have a lasting impact on health equity in our communities. As a program director, I can help foster that type of change.
Kim loves “the collaborative nature of the PA profession and our wide knowledge base that allows us to change specialties if desired. The variety offered by the PA profession can allow us change when life becomes mundane.” She currently resides in Haw River, NC, a pretty bit of countryside between Elon and Chapel Hill.
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