Women’s History Month: A Spotlight on Darcy Solanyk, PA-C

Darcy Solanyk, MS, PA-C

Darcy Solanyk, PA-C, is the Associate Program Director and Director of Curriculum for RVU’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program. She oversees the design and implementation of the PA Program’s curriculum and focuses on the didactic component. She also supports the PA Program Director in helping with different program operational tasks.

Ms. Solanyk received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Anatomy from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2007, she received her Physician Assistant Certificate from the University of Colorado’s Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program. She practiced in Pediatric Gastroenterology at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado before joining the Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program as a faculty member in 2010. She was a member of the faculty until 2016. Ms. Solanyk then joined the Rocky Vista University Physician Assistant program as a principal faculty member in 2017. She has a passion for inter-professional education, student professionalism, and her family.

Below, we asked Ms. Solanyk to answer the following questions in regards to women in academia and about being a Physician Assistant.

What inspires you as a physician assistant?

The ability to be part of an effective healthcare team that delivers the best possible patient care. The team can work more effectively than any one member alone.

What inspires you as an educator?

Watching the students grow and develop through the [PA] Program. They come into the program with excitement and eagerness and grow into competent providers by the time they leave. The transformation is remarkable, and I am humbled to watch that change.

What has been one of your most rewarding moments at RVU?

One of the most memorable moments is somewhat of a longitudinal one. I think it is working with our first cohort, the inaugural Class of 2020. We interviewed the individual members of the cohort, rolled out our curriculum for the first time with them, held our first-ever White Coat Ceremony, and followed that up a year and a half later by a memorable graduation for that same cohort. To see our first group of students grow and mature from the admissions interviews all the way to graduation was a very special and very rewarding experience. 

What is your advice to women seeking a career as a physician assistant?

Know why you want to be a PA. Follow multiple PAs around to see what they do and how they function within their teams. Know the important role that a PA plays within the healthcare team and ask yourself if that is the right role for your personality. Pay and lateral flexibility won’t be enough if you are not happy with the role of a PA within the healthcare team.

Could you talk more about what it has been like to help establish the PA Program at RVU?

It’s been an incredible adventure to help build the PA program at RVU. I had worked at another long-standing PA program prior to coming to RVU. There was not a lot of flexibility in what or how you taught. Here we’ve been able to implement an innovative curriculum – the first PA program in the nation to adopt a competency by design curriculum. We are implementing creative assessments, grading strategies, and teaching methodologies with a lot of hands-on learning opportunities. I feel so grateful to be a part of such an amazing PA team to help shape future healthcare providers.

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