Graduating from the Hahnemann University PA program in the early 1990s, and passing his boards with special recognition in both medicine and surgery, Dr. Richards began his medical practice as a rural family and behavioral medicine PA, often serving as the consulting psychiatric provider for family practice and internal medicine practitioners. Having served with the Public Health Service and then with the National Health Service Corps, he has devoted his career to serving the underserved.
Dr. Richards has an extensive history in medicine, serving patients of all ages and with a wide variety of conditions, including complicated chronic disease multimorbidity; he also practiced in the area of refugee medicine and developed free clinics for patients who were homeless and a volunteer health clinic for migrant worker patients. To enhance his skills and broaden the services he could offer to his patients, he returned to school, while still maintaining his full-time medical practice, to receive advanced training in clinical psychology. Currently, in addition to his role as Department Chair/Program Director, Dr. Richards serves as a volunteer provider for at the Mel Leaman Free Clinic, overseeing the Clinic’s behavioral medicine/psychiatric practice services - he was integral in paving the way for the MLFC to be relocated onto the same campus as the E&H MPAS Program.
Dr. Richards strives to assist others in reducing their suffering and reaching a fulfilling and contented state of being – with particular emphasis on patient, student, clinician, and faculty success, and improving access to care for all persons. For his service to patients, communities, and expanding the role of PAs, the American Association of PAs (AAPA) awarded Dr. Richards distinguished fellow status in the AAPA. Additionally, he has received numerous awards throughout his career, most recently receiving a regional Healthcare Hero Award for Community Service.
In academia, Dr. Richards has served as a Dean, Program Director, Principal Faculty Member, and Guest Lecturer in PA and medical programs. He also serves with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps; has served on the planning committee and as a volunteer clinician for Remote Area Medical (RAM) Smyth County; has served as the public representative to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties; is a board member and peer-review editor for Clinician Reviews; is a Conference & Policy Symposium Proposal Reviewer for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council; is a regular facilitator/presenter for the Physician Assistant Education Association’s (PAEA) faculty development workshops; and presents continuing medical education sessions on behavioral health/psychiatric practice at national conferences on an annual basis.
Service on Boards
- Academy of Family Practice PAs and NPs (advisory board member)
- Clinician Reviews (board member and peer-review editor)
- Mel Leaman Free Clinic (also serves as Organizational and Clinical Consultant)
- Smyth County Development Foundation
- Smyth County Community Hospital
Service on Committees/Workgroups:
- Ballad Health: Community Benefit and Population Health Committee (Ongoing)
- Mel Leaman Free Clinic: Provider Committee (Ongoing)
- Virginia Association for Free and Charitable Clinics Membership Standards Workgroup (2018)
- National Health Care for the Homeless: Conference & Policy Symposium Proposal Reviewer (2018)
Honors & Awards
2018: Healthcare Hero Cup of Kindness Community Service Award. Business Journal of Tri-Cities annual award to an individual or organization for excellence in public health.
2013: Drexel University’s Sherry Stolberg Alumni of the Year Award.
2009: Pi Alpha National Honor Society. Inducted into the national physician assistant honor society by Drexel University for the promotion & recognition of significant academic achievement, leadership, research, community & professional service.
2009: Awarded Distinguished Fellow status in American Association of Physician Assistants.
2005: Psi Chi, National Honor Society in Psychology. Lifetime national recognition for academic excellence in the study of psychology.
2000: State of California Senate Certificate of Recognition for service in Del Norte County
2000: Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Service to Community Award, Redwood Coast Regional Center, Crescent City, Del Norte County, California
1996: Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Achievement & Contribution Award, Regional Migrant Education Association, California
1994: Honors recognition in both primary care & surgery, National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants
1993: Commissioned Officer Student Extern Program (COSTEP) Public Health Service Scholarship
1988: Magna Cum Laude Honors, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Walden University, Minneapolis, MN
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology
Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
B.S., PA/Medical Studies
University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA
In addition to an extensive career in medicine, Dr. Richards has over a decade worth of experience in academics, teaching mindfulness, spirituality, psychology, psychiatry, and clinical medicine at both undergraduate and graduate level programs, including, but not limited to, PA programs and medical school.
He presently serves as the Founding Chair and Director for our Department of Physician Assistant Studies within the School of Health Sciences located on the Marion campus. Prior to joining E&H, he was the Director of Clinical Education for Lynchburg College’s Department of PA Medicine, playing an integral role in developing that new program and passing accreditation with zero observations for improvement. He also served as a program director and associate dean for some of the country’s largest PA programs in the Northeast, overseeing programs on three campuses for MCPHS University. He was also a core faculty member and assistant professor for the University of New England PA program.
Here in the E&H MPAS Program, Dr. Richards is the course director for the program’s two-semester Behavioral Medicine/Psychiatry coursework and Practice Based Learning and Improvement and Masters Research coursework. He also precepts didactic-phase students in behavioral medicine/psychiatry at the Mel Leaman Free Clinic. Additionally, he assists in the Clinical Skills and Clinical Medicine courses and as a guest lecturer in the DPT and MOT programs.
Articles & Texts
Richards, S. & Feirstein, J. (2016). Family Medicine. In B. Darwin, T. Ritsema, R. Ballweg, & D. Vetrosky (Eds.), Physician Assistant: A Guide to Clinical Practice (6th ed.). Manuscript submitted for publication.
Barclay, T., Richards, S. (2015). Mental Optometry: A new psychotherapeutic approach integrating neurobiology, visual perception and imagery, and emotions and behaviors. GSTF Journal of Psychology, 2(1), 41-47.
Barclay, T., Richards, S., Schoffstall, J., Magnuson, C., McPhee, C., Price, J., Aita, S., Anderson, A., Johnson, D., Price, J. (2014). A pilot study on the effects of exercise on depression symptoms using levels of neurotransmitters and EEG as markers. European Journal of Psychology & Educational Sciences, 1(1), 30-35.
Paper & Poster Presentations (Peer-Reviewed)
Abel C, Dunican K, & Richards S. An interprofessional cultural competence activity for all first professional year pharmacy and physician assistant students. Poster presented at: AACP Annual Meeting, Pharmacy Education; July, 2013; Chicago, IL.
Richards, S. A chaos theory perspective on mortality salience & resultant terror management. Paper presented at: The Annual International Conference of the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences; 2006; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.
CME Presentations (Peer-Reviewed)
- Richards S. Effective Presentations. CME presentation at the annual Physician Assistant Education Association Faculty Development 101 Workshop, April 2018, Washington DC.
- Richards S. Exam Data Analysis. CME presentation at the annual Physician Assistant Education Association Faculty Development 101 Workshop, April 2018, Washington DC.
- Richards S. Understanding the ARC-PA and Accreditation. CME presentation at the annual Physician Assistant Education Association Faculty Development 101 Workshop, April 2018, Washington DC.
- Richards S. Bipolar Depression: Early Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment. CME presentation at the inaugural Association for Family Practice PAs and NPs Annual Early Disease Detection and Disease Prevention Symposium, April 2018, NM.
- Richards S. Suicidality and Suicide Prevention: Early Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment. CME presentation at the inaugural Association for Family Practice PAs and NPs Annual Early Disease Detection and Disease Prevention Symposium, 2018, NM.
- Richards S. Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment. CME presentation at the inaugural Association for Family Practice PAs and NPs Annual Early Disease Detection and Disease Prevention Symposium, 2018, NM.
- Richards S. Introduction to Motivational Interviewing. Two-Part CME Presentation for Johnston Memorial Hospital, Family Medicine Residency and Internal Medicine Residency, Grand Rounds. July 2017.
- Richards, S. Suicide prevention and the ZeroSuicide initiative: An evidence-based approach to improving outcomes. Presentation for Johnston Memorial Hospital, Family Medicine Residency, Grand Rounds. March 2016.
- Richards S. Bipolar Disorder: Pharmacotherapy and Treatment Update. CME presentation at the annual Delaware Academy of Physician Assistants Pharmaceutical Update conference, 2015, Delaware
- Richards S. ADHD: Pharmacotherapy and Treatment Update. CME presentation at the annual Delaware Academy of Physician Assistants Pharmaceutical Update conference, 2014: Delaware.
- Richards S. Improving difficult patient encounters: Identifying and using object relations, transference and countertransference issues in patient interactions. CME presentation at: New Hampshire Society of Physician Assistants Annual Primary Care CME Conference; 2012; Nashua, NH.
Richards S. Academic support strategies for graduate clinical health science students. Presentation for Emory & Henry College’s Powell Resource Center staff. January 2016.
Richards S. A psychodynamic and mindfulness perspective on leadership and difficult interactions. Presentation and workshop given for the Lynchburg College Anderson Leadership Conference Workshop: Thinking ‘Outside of the Box’ about Leadership, February 2015.
Richards S. Understanding self-esteem and self-efficacy and the neurobiology of fear: The real reasons why individuals do not do well in college. Presentation given for the Lynchburg College Annual Academic Recharge Symposium, September 2014.
Text Contributions & Editing/Review Activities:
- Editorial Advisory Board Member as the PA Representative, Clinician Reviews, 2017-Present
- Peer Review Editor for CME Outfitters, LLC continuing medical education presentation: Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants: The Front-Line in the Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder”; 2016
- Contributor - Behavioral Test Review Committee. Auth P, Kerstein M, eds. Physician Assistant Review. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013
Since graduating PA School in 1994, Dr. Richards has served as a Family Medicine and Behavioral Medicine/Psychiatric PA at the following organizations:
- Mel Leaman Free Clinic, Marion, VA
- St. Mary’s Health Systems, Lewiston/Auburn, ME
- Del Norte Community Health Center, Crescent City, CA
Additional to his full-time practices, he has also worked in a part-time capacity:
- Hospitalist for Spring Harbor Psychiatric Hospital, Portland, ME
- Internal Medicine coverage for St. Mary’s Health System, Lewiston, ME
- Urgent Care for St. Mary’s Health System, Lewiston, ME.