Within the first year of practice as a physician assistant, Wallace Boeve, Ed.D., PA-C, responded to a request from Grand Valley State University to serve as a clinical preceptor for its physician assistant (PA) students. That sparked his relatively rapid advancement, even while he continued to practice, to a faculty member, program director and department chair of Grand Valley’s PA program.
“In practice, I can see 20 patients a day. Or I can train 20 students to each see that many patients a day,” says Boeve (pronounced “BOO vee”), who officially became dean of DMU’s College of Health Sciences on Nov. 2. “I estimate there are 600 to 700 PAs out there I’ve taught who are now in practice. Teaching is very rewarding.”
A glimpse at his 25-page CV shows that he finds a lot of endeavors, in addition to clinical practice and teaching, to be rewarding. Founding director of the PA program and professor at Bethel University prior to joining DMU, he has served in leadership roles in state and national PA organizations, including as a past president of the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants and a member of the executive board of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants. He’s been a consultant for numerous start-up PA programs as well as those on accreditation probation.
In addition, Boeve has conducted and had published grant-supported research and authored numerous book chapters, articles, presentations and posters. He has advocated on medical issues in state legislatures and on the national level. And he juggled all this and more with the myriad requisite roles of academia, from advising students, evaluating dissertations and judging research posters to serving on seemingly countless committees.
“I really enjoy mentoring faculty,” he says. “I want faculty to know that I’ve been in the trenches with them, and I understand what it takes to do the work they do. As dean, I will do whatever I can to support them as we train future health professionals together.”
Boeve acknowledges the challenges the COVID-19 poses to that task, both short- and long-term.
“Students come into the health professions with a passion to serve. How do we fan that flame? I believe that’s what we model – to be flexible, compassionate and to plan for the future,” he says. “We want students to graduate viewing the University not just as where they got their degree, but that they also are proud to be a DMU graduate.”
Boeve has modeled flexibility, compassion and a focus on the future literally around the world. He and his wife, Kelli, a nurse, participated in their first global health trip, to Liberia, West Africa, in 2002. As they provided patient care at a church-related clinic, the country was in the middle of its second civil war, which had displaced thousands from their homes.
“People were running for their lives, yet they were so grateful,” he recalls. “We got to shine a little bit of hope and joy in their lives and came away feeling so touched by their generosity to us.”
He has participated in several trips since to Kenya, India, China, Ghana, England and Mexico for purposes including providing patient care, developing potential clinical training programs, networking with hospitals and exploring student exchange programs.
Boeve earned his bachelor of science degree in biomedical sciences at Grand Valley State University and his master of science degree in physician assistant studies at Baylor College of Medicine. He earned his Ed.D. in educational leadership and administration from Eastern Michigan University. That put serving as dean in his “wheelhouse,” he says, and he’s excited to do so at DMU.
“Des Moines University has a strong history and an exciting future, with the opportunity to expand on its new campus,” he says. “I love to create and build. There will be a learning curve, but I’ve been a learner throughout my career.”