Debra Cole

Chair and Program Director, Physician Assistant Studies Physician Assistant Studies

Dr. Cole currently serves as Department Chair and Program Director for the Emory and Henry College School of Health Sciences Department of Physician Assistant Studies. She also serves as Course Director for Advanced Clinical Skills and Emergency Medicine Course as well as lecturer for Clinical Medicine Courses. Dr. Cole’s mission is to train caring and knowledgeable physician assistant providers to be competent members of the healthcare team serving in healthcare shortage communities.

Dr. Cole grew up in Central Florida and attended University of Florida for her undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Sciences. She worked mostly in rehabilitative medicine for several years before pursuing a career as a physician assistant. She received her Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree from the University of Florida, graduating in 2001. Since graduating, Dr. Cole has practiced in a variety of private and academic settings to include Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Gastroenterology Oncology, Women’s Health, Dermatology, and Rehabilitative Medicine. She worked exclusively in general and surgical dermatology for over 10 years of her career. Dr. Cole has held several academic positions in PA education at University of Texas Medical Branch (Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Medicine), University of Florida (Assistant Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor), and Florida State University (Clinical Education Director, Assistant Professor, and Simulation).  Dr. Cole has defended her dissertation for her Doctorate Degree from University of Florida, Education Technology Program (EdD) and will graduate December 2022. She remains a member of the Golden Key Honor Society.

Dr. Cole is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, member of Physician Assistant Education Association, American Academy of Physician Assistants, Florida Academy of PAs, and Virginia Academy of PAs. She has held position of Treasurer of FAPA, served on the Legislative Affairs Committee, and has served on the House of Delegates, Florida delegation of AAPA. Debra is a graduate of the FAPA Leadership Academy. Dr. Cole has served and continues to serve as a mentor for first generation college students and pre-PA students.

Dr. Cole is a member of Association for Educational Communications and Technology and Association of Standardized Patient Educators. She has special interests in educational technology in medicine and medical simulation and is a professional speaker participated in a nationally recognized speaker’s bureau in dermatology. She has also been primary investigator for dermatologic research within her practice regarding longitudinal studies on specific drugs related to psoriasis.

Dr. Cole enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, biking, swimming, and photography. She enjoys traveling and considers herself a foodie. 

Research Interests and Scholarly Activities

Research and development for higher education and technology

Simulation and medical education

Underserved/Minority/First Generation college student recruitment

Dermatology, skin cancer and other skin related disease states

Psoriasis and management with special interest in biologics

Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Physician Assistant

Women’s Health Care: Disease Prevention, Wellness and Disease


Yorkgitis, B. K., Garbas, B., & Cole, D. (2019). Opioid Prescribing Education for Physician Assistant Students: A Physician Assistant Educator Survey. The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, 30(1), 27–33.

Cole, Debra. “Mammography in Geriatrics”: Geriatric Modules. University of Texas Medical Branch web-based publishing. 2005. http://



Cole, D. Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. Lecture presented: Florida Academy of Physician Assistants Winter Symposium: February 2019; Orlando, Florida

Cole, D. Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. Lecture presented: Florida Academy of Physician Assistants Summer Symposium: August 2019; Marco Island, Florida

Cole, D. Psoriasis: Body Under Attack. Lecture presented: Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants Fall Conference: November 2022; Herndon, Virginia

Contact Info

565 Radio Hill Rd.
Marion, VA 24354



Emory & Henry College Health Sciences Campus