The Physician Assistant Profession

In the mid-1960s it was recognized that there was a growing shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas. At the same time, there was a number of military Corpsmen/Medics coming home from the Vietnam War who had extensive field training and experience in dealing with trauma and emergency medicine. Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina established a two-year training program to formally educate these Corpsmen/Medics to address the shortage in health care delivery. The educational model was based in part on his experience of fast-track training of doctors during WWII. In the fall of 1965 four ex-Navy corpsman began their education at Duke University under Dr. Stead’s direction. In October of 1967 they graduated as the first Physician Assistants (Associates) from Duke University. Today there are 159 accredited programs across the United States with approximately 83,000 practicing PAs.

For additional information please go to:

Physician Assistant History Society: http://www.pahx.org/

American Academy of Physician Assistants: http://www.aapa.org/the_pa_profession/history.aspx