Each year from October 6-12, we celebrate National PA Week, which recognizes the PA profession and its contributions to the nation’s health.
This week is also an opportunity to raise awareness and visibility of the profession. Before it was a weeklong event, National PA Day was first celebrated on October 6, 1987, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the first graduating class of PAs from the Duke University PA program. October 6th is also the birthday of the profession’s founder, Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD. Now the profession is 50 years strong!
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.
What is a PA? (American Academy of PAs)
What is a PA?
A physician assistant (or PA) is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional. There are currently more than 100,000 clinically practicing PA’s in the United States! PA’s practice medicine on health care teams with physicians and other providers. They also prescribe medication in all 50 states.
What does a PA do? Well, at the most basic level, a PA is a medical practitioner who works under the supervision of a physician.
Physician assistants (PAs) work closely with doctors and handle duties that range from taking medical histories to setting simple fractures. They are allowed to prescribe medications in some states. Many PAs specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as pediatrics. A master’s degree is required, and all states require that PAs be licensed. Licensing requires passing a multiple-choice exam and completing continuing education courses to keep knowledge current.
Beyond the basic definition, however, the PA profession represents an essential part of the health care infrastructure in a number of important ways.
Physician assistants examine, diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of licensed physician. PAs can prepare casts or splints, suture small wounds and interpret medical tests. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), these medically-trained professionals can also prescribe medications (www.aapa.org).
Some PAs specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as emergency care or geriatrics, and can assist doctors in advanced medical techniques and procedures. Physician assistants are often the first line of medical care in rural and underserved areas. In some cases, a physician assistant will refer the patient to a medical doctor or make arrangements for transferring the patient to a hospital or clinic.
During this week, TOCA is excited to honor our amazing PAs and to say a big thank you. We appreciate your dedication to patient care, and we recognize the impact that you make in the lives of those patients every day.
To read more about the dedicated Physician Assistant staff at TOCA Click Here
To learn more about TOCA or to schedule an appointment call 602-277-6211
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