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When Kelli Cash ’15 walks into the foyer of Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences next month, the Mary Baldwin graduate will be one step closer to a career in medicine, a dream delayed but not deterred by raising a family of four boys and a career in emergency services.

Cash, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in May in the university’s Baldwin Online and Adult Programs, was the first Mary Baldwin undergraduate admitted to the new Master of Science in Physician Assistant program, which will officially launch on January 4 with a full class of 38 students.

“Having experienced Mary Baldwin University’s undergraduate program, I feel connected to the vision, goals, and future of the [institution],” Cash said. “I love their continuing standards of excellence and desire to instill a need for all students to give back to their communities, making lasting differences in the lives of others.”

It is the fourth program developed at Mary Baldwin’s college of health sciences since its inception in 2012. PA students will join two classes of students who are pursuing doctoral degrees in physical therapy and occupational therapy as well as two classes of nurses earning their bachelor degrees.

PAs practice and prescribe medicine on health care teams with physicians and other providers. The program embraces the team-based, collaborative, and interprofessional approach to patient care already in place at MDCHS.

For many years Cash planned on a long-term career in medicine, but instead had jobs teaching and in computer sciences and working for the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad. Going back to school as an adult propelled her toward her goal, and fortuitously coincided with the development of Mary Baldwin’s college of health sciences. With hard work and focus and help from advisors on the main campus in Staunton and at Murphy Deming in Fishersville, Cash was able to chart a path toward a career as a PA.

While working toward her master’s degree, the Staunton resident said she will take a sabbatical from working outside the home, but will still have her hands full raising four boys, ages 11, 9, 6, and 4.

With the diverse career opportunities available for those who earn a master’s degree in PA, Cash is leaving her options open, but is considering working with her sister who is a plastic surgeon or possibly even working with the international organization Doctors Without Borders.

“It is an honor to continue to be a part of Mary Baldwin and to start my health care profession as a graduate of Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences,” Cash said.