October

After earning master’s and doctoral degrees from the School of Health Related Professions at UMMC, Dr. Driscoll DeVaul is now assistant dean for academic affairs at SHRP.
After earning master’s and doctoral degrees from the School of Health Related Professions at UMMC, Dr. Driscoll DeVaul is now assistant dean for academic affairs at SHRP.
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People of the U: Driscoll DeVaul

Published on Monday, February 7, 2022

By: Annie Oeth, aoeth@umc.edu

Editor's Note: In honor of Black History Month’s 2022 theme, Black Health and Wellness, we want to celebrate the contributions, breakthroughs and cultural richness of Black professionals and students at UMMC. See more People of the U features.

From caregiver to a leader first in respiratory therapy and then in academics, Dr. Driscoll DeVaul has a 20-year career woven into the missions of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

DeVaul, assistant dean for academic affairs in UMMC’s School of Health Related Professions, earned Master of Health Sciences and Doctor of Health Administration degrees from SHRP while working as the Medical Center’s director of Respiratory Care/ECMO and Associated Clinical Programs. He is also a registered respiratory therapist.

DeVaul credits SHRP with advancing his skills and allowing him to earn advanced degrees while working as a health care professional.

“SHRP is just amazing,” DeVaul said. “Studying there at the graduate level was an awesome experience. At SHRP, the faculty gets you to look beyond what is taught to anticipate the unexpected.”

A case in point: the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, DeVaul was finishing his last semester of SHRP’s DHA program and was helping UMMC as well as the Mississippi Department of Health, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and other hospitals in the state deal with the unexpected and unknown.

As March 2020 unfurled, DeVaul navigated the pandemic, managing counts of ventilators and respiratory care supplies daily to meet the respiratory care needs of patient of all ages throughout the Medical Center. Patients with comorbidities such as diabetes, pulmonary conditions or heart disease were hit the hardest, he was finding, learning about a new disease as it spread.

“You’d see a patient who was seemingly in fair condition one day but wearing supplemental oxygen for support, and the next day that patient would be on the ventilator. The disease is very aggressive.” DeVaul said.

Finishing his doctoral degree in that last semester, fighting a pandemic and leading the Medical Center’s Adult and Children’s respiratory care teams “was a daunting challenge but also a humbling experience,” DeVaul said. “I always knew we had great teams, but this pandemic has shined a brighter light on respiratory therapy as a profession. Our team’s efforts in rising to the occasion made me extremely proud.”

DeVaul faced the demands of a pandemic and graduate studies with a smile, said Dr. Jessica Bailey, dean of the School of Health-Related Professions.

“I’ve never known anyone with a more encouraging smile than Dr. DeVaul,” Bailey said. “I believe he might know everyone on campus, and he certainly knows their name and is going to speak to them and ask about their family and how they are doing. His communication style is a rarity, and something I wish we could teach all students.”