PA Faculty and Staff

Image of PA Faculty & Staff

Jennifer Hixon, DHSc, PA-C
Founding Director & Chair of Health Sciences

Dr. Hixon is the founding program director of the Westfield State University Physician Assistant Program. Her priority strategy for Westfield State’s PA program is to attract a diverse pool of students and to place a significant emphasis on intercultural awareness and diversity. Additionally, Dr. Hixon is focused on creating a personalized learning experience for the 24 students expected to enroll in the entering class. “Our intent is to keep this program small so we can provide individualized instruction and ensure program excellence,” said Hixon.

Dr. Hixon is widely known in Western Massachusetts as the founding program director of the Bay Path University Physician Assistant Program, where she was responsible for developing all aspects of the program including curriculum development, facilities management, and faculty recruitment, key elements required for the successful completion of the American Review Commission-PA (ARC-PA) Provisional Accreditation Process. She was previously Dean of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences School of Physician Assistant Studies and the program director for the Springfield College Physician Assistant Program. She was also a site visitor for the ARC-PA. As a practitioner, Dr. Hixon served as physician assistant of sports medicine and orthopedic surgery for the United States Field Hockey Olympic Team. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Dr. Hixon was responsible for the medical welfare of the athletes of the team, coordinating care with the team physician, and creating conditioning programs.

Dr. Hixon serves on the governance committee of the Physician Assistant Educators Association and is a founding board member of the KEVS Foundation, which aims to educate and help prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in children and young adults. She also serves as a Trustee to the Baystate Academy Charter School, and is a member of the Baystate/UMass Medical School Curriculum Committee.

Dr. Hixon holds a B.S. in physician assistant studies from Hahnemann University, an M.S. in industrial/organizational psychology from Springfield College, and a doctorate of health science from Nova Southeastern University.

Kristin L. Dardano, MD
Medical Director

Dr. Dardano is the Medical Director for Baystate Medical Practices – Northampton Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Interim Chief of the Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology with Baystate Medical Center.  She has practiced general obstetrics and gynecology in the Pioneer Valley since 1998. She currently sees patients in Northampton and teaches residents, medical students, and Physician Assistant students at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. She is on the medical staff at Baystate Medical Center.

She has been involved in medical education throughout her career, serving as the OB-GYN Clerkship Director at Baystate Medical Center from 1998 to 2006.  She was involved in all disciplines of medical education as the Chair of the Tufts University School of Medicine Curriculum Committee from 2003 to 2007. This involved oversight of the entire medical school wide curriculum, including accreditation and strategic planning for curriculum revision.

She has studied behavioral event-based interviewing techniques for admitting medical students to residency and been involved with projects to prevent medical errors by improving communication skills in the health care setting. She has received multiple teaching awards and citations, including the Zucker Clinical Teaching Prize at Tufts University School of Medicine for innovation in clinical teaching. She is looking forward to serving as the Medical Director for the Physician Assistant Program at Westfield State University.

Michelle Duffelmeyer, MD, FACP
Director of Didactic Education

Dr. Duffelmeyer is the Director of Didactic of Didactic Education in the Westfield State University Physician Assistant (PA) Program. She is a board-certified Internal Medicine Physician practicing primary care in the pioneer valley since 1998.  She currently is Medical Director for Springfield Technical Community Colleges Health Center as well as full time faculty at Westfield State University. Much of her time in primary care practice was in the outpatient setting at Baystate Medical Practice and University Health Services at the University of Massachusetts.

Dr. Duffelmeyer holds a B.S. from Cornell University, Doctor of Medicine from State University of New York Downstate Medical School and completed her Internal Medical Residence at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. She is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians.

Her goal is to train compassionate skilled providers to help meet our community health care needs.

Susan McDiarmid, EdD, MS, PA-C
Assistant Program Director & Director of Clinical Education

Dr. Susan McDiarmid is the Assistant Program Director and Director of Clinical Education of the Westfield State University PA Program. She has over 11 years of experience as a medical provider and educator. Professor McDiarmid is a Western Massachusetts native and enjoys being involved in her community with her husband, especially in the sports of gymnastics, swimming, diving and volleyball.

Prior to joining Westfield State University, Dr. McDiarmid was the Director of Clinical Education in the Bay Path University PA Program and an adjunct professor in the Springfield College PA Program. She has also served as a guest lecturer and clinical preceptor in the past. Her clinical experience as a PA includes emergency medicine at Hartford Hospital, college health, urgent care and addiction medicine. As a clinician, she maintains clinical practice in addiction medicine in Springfield, Massachusetts. Dr. McDiarmid is a buprenorphine-waivered prescriber and has a passion for doing her part to combat the opioid epidemic as a PA.

Dr. McDiarmid has presented and been published at the local and national level on many PA education and medical topics. She currently serves as a facilitator for the national PAEA Clinical Coordinators 101 Workshop. Additionally, she serves as an AAPA PA Foundation scholarship reviewer.

Dr. McDiarmid obtained her B.S. in Health Science from Springfield College, M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies from Springfield College, Certificate of Healthcare Management from Bay Path University, and Doctor of Education (EdD) from Bay Path University in Higher Education Leadership and Organizational Studies. She is certified by the NCCPA.

Dr. McDiarmid is a member of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the Pioneer Valley Interprofessional Practice and Education Collaborative (PV-IPEC), the Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants (MAPA) and the Connecticut Academy of Physician Assistants (ConnAPA).

Jessica Marchesi, MS, PA-C
Assistant Professor

Professor Marchesi is the Director of Didactic Studies for the Westfield State University Physician Assistant Program. She completed her A.S. in Biology at Holyoke Community College, B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts, and M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies at Bay Path University. After achieving her degree and certification as a physician assistant, she has worked for Mercy Medical Center, Baystate Health Systems, Noble Hospital, and Jewish Geriatric Services in the fields of emergency medicine, urgent care, hospital medicine, subacute rehabilitation, addiction medicine, and geriatrics. Over the course of her clinical career, Professor Marchesi has precepted many physician assistant students during their clinical rotations and has previously worked in the academic arena as adjunct faculty for Bay Path University. Professor Marchesi is a native of Westfield and maintains strong ties to her community. 

Chelsea Robitaille, MS, PA-C
Assistant Professor

Chelsea Robitaille is an Assistant Professor of Didactic Education and the Chair of the Admissions Committee for the Westfield State University Physician Assistant Program. She received her Master of Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Bay Path University, and she completed a post-graduate residency in emergency medicine at Baystate Medical Center. Professor Robitaille has a passion for teaching and has precepted many students in the emergency medicine and urgent care settings. She is a Western Massachusetts native and enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and adventuring with her husband.  

Sunlight shines through the globe sculpture on the campus green

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577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA