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 in the Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (COSTEP) and completing five years with the National Health Service Corps, he continued his devotion to serving the underserved, spending his entire medical career with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). 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.
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, and was a core faculty member and assistant professor for the University of New England PA program.
Academically, Dr. Richards completed a BA degree in anthropology with magna cum laude honors at the University of Massachusetts and a BS degree at Hahnemann University (currently Drexel University) in PA/medical sciences. He also completed both a masters and doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Walden University with an emphasis on existential psychology, chaos theory, integrative psychodynamic psychotherapy, mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy, school psychology and health psychology.
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, and faculty success, and improving access to care for all persons. In addition to his role here at E&H, Dr. Richards also serves as a volunteer clinician, board member, and volunteer clinical and organizational consultant for the Mel Leaman Free Clinic (MLFC) - he was integral in paving the way for the MLFC to be relocated here on the Marion campus; serves with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps; serves on the planning committee and is a volunteer clinician for Remote Area Medical (RAM) Smyth County; served as a National Health Service Corps Ambassador; serves as the public representative to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS); serves as a board member for the Southwest Virginia Area Health Education Center (AHEC); serves as a board member for the Smyth County Community Foundation; serves as a board member of Smyth County Community Hospital. Dr. Richards also frequently volunteers with Project Crossroads in their emergency assistance ministries.
Additionally, Dr. Richards is a facilitator/presenter for the Physician Assistant Education Association's (PAEA) faculty development workshops and serves as an accreditation and program development consultant for other PA programs in the nation.
PhD, Clinical Psychology: Walden University. Dissertation title: A Psychoeducational Application of Terror Management Theory to Reduce Post-Mortality-Salience Worldview Defense. Predoctoral clinical internship and practicums completed in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioral Therapies, Health Psychology, and School Psychology completed with St Marys Regional Medical Center, Lewiston, ME.
MS, Psychology: Walden University. Thesis title: A Chaos Theory Perspective on Mortality Salience & Resultant Terror Management
BS, PA/Medical Studies: Hahnemann University (now known as Drexel University).
BA: Anthropology - Magna Cum Laude honors: University of Massachusetts, Boston.