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MU Home » Academics » School of Health Sciences » Physician Assistant Program

Faculty Testimonials

Tiffany Mills
Staci Pessetti


Christina Beard, MPAS, PA-C, '03
Program Director

I am a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina and a graduate of Methodist University PA Program. Teaching has always been an interest of mine, and my "bucket list" included teaching at my alma mater at some point in my career. After working at Fayetteville Gastroenterology for several years after graduation, I was offered the position of adjunct professor for the Gastroenterology course. This convinced me that academia was a place where I belonged. I was soon hired as the clinical coordinator and served in that role for a year and a half. Establishing international clinical rotations became a passion of mine during my time as clinical coordinator and is an area where I continue to work as a member of the Physician Assistant Education Association Clinical Education Committee subcommittee on international clinical rotations.

Once the need for a Program Director was determined, I interviewed for the position and am honored to serve this Program in such a capacity. I continue to teach the Gastroenterology course, with spot lectures in Laboratory Medicine, Physician Assistant Orientation, and Critical Thinking.

My teaching philosophy is one that anchors in practical medical education, helping our students stay engaged through interactive lectures. I grew up in an unconventional atmosphere as a homeschooler. This molded me into a person who appreciates the learning process. I believe that learning should be enjoyable, individualized and interactive. I bring my experience as a PA into every lecture, giving points on how to survive and thrive as a midlevel provider, providing tips on appropriate physician/staff and patient interactions, and keeping the welfare of the patient as the utmost concern.

I continue my clinical work as a PA in the Expresscare of Cape Fear Valley Health System one day a week.

The strength of our Program lies in the faculty and staff who care about our students on a personal level. You will never be a number in the Methodist University PA Program. We are dedicated to preparing PAs who are excellent diagnosticians, clinicians, employees, and leaders both in their areas of employment and in their community.

Dr. Deborah Morris, PA-C, MD
Academic Coordinator

I bring an unusual perspective to PA education because of my background as both a PA and an MD. I have been a PA, taught PA's, supervised and worked closely with PAs and feel strongly that the PA profession is the present and future of primary medical care in the U.S.

I graduated from the Yale University PA program in 1982 and worked in a community health center while functioning as an instructor and Clinical Coordinator at the Yale program until 1984. I moved my family to North Carolina to be closer to my parents and worked as a PA in Urgent Care in Wilmington until starting medical school in 1988. I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1992 and completed internship and part of an internal medicine residency at UNC hospitals. Family issues forced me out of residency and I returned to Urgent Care work in Cary, subsequently assuming the Medical Directorship of Doctor's Urgent Care Centres, a chain of 12 Urgent Cares in Eastern NC.

In 2002 I founded MedEx Urgent Care in Fayetteville with a group of friends and co-workers to create a place where we could work together, support each other, and have fun while providing excellent care to our patients. I became aware of the Methodist PA program when didactic phase students rotated through the clinic to observe my partner, Mort Meltzer. I asked to help in teaching physical exam in 2007 and slowly expanded my teaching time until coming on to faculty full-time in January 2011.

My current clinical focus is on supervising several PA and NP owned primary care practices and working as a plasma collection center Medical Director.

I bring stories and examples from the clinic and from my almost 30 years in medicine into the classroom and try to teach clinically relevant medicine in a way that is both engaging and rigorous. I feel very fortunate to be teaching such a central and hands-on part of medical practice to the next generation of medical care providers. I also work to support the rest of the didactic faculty in developing their teaching and assessment skills.

I have been incredibly impressed with the Methodist PA students. They bring enormous intelligence and energy to their studies and seem to be grounded in compassion and a commitment to improving the lives of their patients. It is exciting to work here during a time of growth and increasing recognition of our program from people and programs across the country.

Dr. William R. Greenwood, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine

I have been associated with the Methodist University PA Program since its beginning in 1996. I have had the pleasure of watching the Program grow from 4 students to 40 students.

Teaching has always been a favorite of mine. My first thought of becoming an instructor was in the 1980’s when I was selected to teach Paramedic students in the Seattle-Tacoma area. I enjoyed this so much that I began teaching whenever and wherever I could. I began accumulating as many photographs and case reports as I could so I would be a more efficient and entertaining speaker.

The highlight of my teaching occurred when I was selected to teach Emergency Medicine at Methodist University. I have now been elevated to a part-time faculty, teaching 2 days a week instead of the 2 hours a week I had initially been contracted for.

Teaching has become my "oasis" in the often difficult and challenging world of medicine. Spending time weekly with new students of medicine helps me to cope with the everyday challenges I face as a practicing physician. Without these students to keep me focused, I fear I would have fared much worse in my practice of medicine.

I see my role in medical education of PA students as being able to provide a combination of real world experience and traditional teaching methods. This seems to help students understand quickly how important basic medical education can be employed in everyday patient care. Finding the connection between didactic and clinical concepts during the first years of education will make the student better prepared for their careers in medicine.

I have been a practicing Emergency Physician since 1982. I am currently on staff at 5 local hospital based Emergency Departments. This allows me to stay very current with medical education, concepts, etc. My daily experience is brought to the classroom so I can enliven the atmosphere and engage the students with real life situations and how to make the appropriate clinical decisions.

My education began at Eastern New Mexico University where I received a BS and MS in biology. I then proceeded to the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine for my MD degree. I completed a surgical internship and an Emergency Medicine residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. I served 23 years on active duty with the Army. I had the pleasure of working closely with Special Operations Forces (Rangers, Special Forces, SEALs, etc). This experience with the military has been some of the most enjoyable time I have spent during my life. It was an honor to work with such highly trained and motivated professionals. I have learned much from this experience and I strive to pass along this experience to the student.

I believe, as do the other faculty here at Methodist University, that we must provide medical education that is focused on the patient. The health and well-being of the patient is often forgotten in today’s world. The patient is not a "client" or "customer". They must always be considered a patient who requires the utmost skill, compassion, empathy and expertise from their healthcare provider. It should never be about "business" or money that drives an individual to become a healthcare professional. Medicine has often forgotten and forsaken this basic principle. I strive daily to keep the focus where it belongs—THE PATIENT.

Matthew Kesic, Ph.D.

I am a native of Youngstown Ohio. I obtained my BS and Masters from Youngstown State University with a concentration in Molecular Genetics. It was during my Master’s degree that I realized teaching was my passion. I went on to obtain my doctorate from The Ohio State University with a concentration in Clinical Immunology and Molecular Virology. I moved to North Carolina in 2009 for a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill. During this time, I built numerous collaborations with both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Carolina State University. My research took an interesting turn into a more Clinical setting while working with the UNC Burn Center and The Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and lung Biology (CEMALB). It was during this fellowship my work was highlighted at numerous international conferences and I was awarded an NIH research grant. In 2012, I was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department here Methodist. It felt like coming home. The community and school reminded me of Youngstown State.

After only two years, there was a position that opened in the Physician Assistant Program and it was a perfect fit for me. This position allows me to not only teach, but also utilize my clinical background in a higher capacity. It has been amazing to work with people that share the same passion for both science and teaching.

My current research is studying the protease/antiprotease balance in the airway of asthma patients and how this influences susceptibility to a viral infection. The lab utilizes molecular and cellular biology techniques along with a repertoire of newly develop mechanistic viral assays. This work is done in collaboration with UNC Chapel Hill and the US EPA. We are also testing novel therapeutic interventions to limit inflammation and oxidative stress in asthmatic patients.

My teaching philosophy strives to engage each student and enrich their learning experience. As a PhD in a clinical program, I take a slightly different approach. I conduct a very interactive classroom and Lab. My goals are to give the students a strong foundation of fundamental knowledge so that when they reach their clinical classes and rotations, they will start seeing the intricate interplay between the body’s systems and diseases emerge. I utilize physiology modules, which encourage teamwork, and I try to empower them through active learning with an emphasis on peer teaching. I have been extremely impressed with the strength and professionalism not only of the faculty and staff, but also of the students at Methodist University. It has been a pleasure working at this great institution for the past few years and I look forward to many more.