news-category: Graduate programs

Ashley Kernicky Named Director of Gardner-Webb’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies

Ashley Kernicky, right, instructs three students on giving shoulder injections.
Ashley Kernicky, right, instructs three students on giving shoulder injections.

2009 Alumna Has Served in PA Program for 10 Years

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Interim Director Ashley Kernicky, a 2009 alumna of Gardner-Webb University, has been named the director of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies (DPAS). While making the announcement, Dean of the College of Health Sciences (COHS), Dr. Nicole Waters noted that the hiring process included a national search to fill this vital position within the COHS.

Ashley Kernicky

Waters stated, “As an Associate Program Director at GWU since 2018, Ashley has already established herself as an invaluable member of our college. Her dedication, expertise, and the student-focused approach make her the ideal candidate for this vital position.”

Additionally, Waters shared that Kernicky has a deep understanding of the ARC-PA accrediting guidelines, medical education, and a demonstrated ability to lead and inspire others.

Kernicky received her Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry from Gardner-Webb in 2009 and earned her Master of Physician Assistant Studies at Wingate (N.C.) University. She returned to Gardner-Webb in 2013 as an assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Studies Program. In 2017, she served as interim program director and led the program through an ARC-PA site visit with just seven months of preparation. For the past year, Kernicky has served as interim director for the department. She received the Educator of the Year Award for the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in 2018, 2021 and 2022.

“I am humbled and grateful that GWU has entrusted me with this leadership position,” Kernicky asserted. “I’m honored and eager to contribute to the advancement and growth of our program. I’m committed to fostering an environment of excellence, collaboration, and continuous learning for both faculty and students. Let’s work together to elevate our program to new heights and uphold the mission of Gardner-Webb: Pro Deo et Humanitate (For God and Humanity).”

Kernicky has served on various committees at GWU for the PA program and the University, such as faculty leader for DPAS for the Science Academy, member and chair of the Degree Completion Program Council, faculty liaison for the College of Health Sciences Student Advisory Council and a member of the Institutional Review Board. Kernicky also serves on the PA Program Summative Committee.

Ashley Kernicky, second from left, teaches students how to use POCUS- Point of Care Ultrasound.

Her clinical experience includes working at Orthopedic Urgent Care, utilizing her medical skills to evaluate and treat patients in an office setting. She performs minor procedures involving injections, aspirations, suture removal, wound care, casting, splinting, DME services, and arthrocentesis.

Kernicky is a member of Hope Community Church in Shelby, N.C., where she serves as a leader with the worship team and volunteers in the children’s and youth ministry. She is a member of the N.C. Academy of Physician Assistants, Society of Point of Care Ultrasound, Pi Alpha National Honor Society for PAs, Faculty Inductee, Physician Assistant Education Association, and American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Beta Beta Beta-National Biological Honor Society: Tau Sigma Chapter, Sigma Zeta-National Science and Mathematics Honor Society: Beta Tau Chapter Charter Member and Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society: North Carolina Zeta Chapter.

Search Committee Members:

  • Dr. Sydney Brown, Dean, GBP School of Graduate Studies; Professor, College of Education.
  • Dr. Trey Boyd III, Associate Professor and Associate Director of Clinical Education, DPAS.
  • Dr. Nicole Waters, Dean, College of Health Sciences, Professor of Nursing.
  • Alli Qualls, PA Admissions Coordinator and Assistant to the Program Director.
  • Dr. Nancy Winker, Retired (2023) Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Director of didactic education.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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