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AAPA History of the PA Profession

AAPA History of the PA Profession

The PA profession was created to improve and expand healthcare.
In the mid-1960s, physicians and educators recognized there was a shortage of primary care physicians.

To help remedy this, Eugene A. Stead Jr., MD, of the Duke University Medical Center, put together the first class of PAs in 1965. He selected four Navy Hospital Corpsmen who had received considerable medical training during their military service. Stead based the curriculum of the PA program on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II.

The first PA class graduated from the Duke University PA program on Oct. 6, 1967.

The PA concept was lauded early on and gained federal acceptance and backing as early as the 1970s as a creative solution to physician shortages. The medical community helped support the new profession and spurred the setting of accreditation standards, establishment of a national certification process and standardized examination, and development of continuing medical education requirements.

Since 1967, PAs have been improving patient outcomes and moving healthcare forward. Always innovative. Always flexible. Always ready for what's next. As we celebrate the profession's next 50 years, we view challenges as opportunities. Unforeseen circumstances as possibilities. Because PAs have always achieved the extraordinary.

Thank you for all you do for your patients, your communities, and the PA profession – and Happy 50th Anniversary!

This video from AAPA and the Physician Assistant History Society traces the origins of PAs.


Clifton Butler

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