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Posted By: Debra A. Danforth, DNP, APRN, FAANP
October 12, 2021
Today marks the last day of National Physician Assistant Week; let's go through the history of PAs and their recognition.
National PA Day was first celebrated on October 6, 1987, to honor the 20th anniversary of Duke University PA program's first graduating class. It also is the birthday of the founder of the profession, Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD.
At the end of 2020, there were approximately 148,560 certified PAs in the United States. According to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants' (NCCPA) 2020 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs, the median age for PAs is 38 years, the majority are female (69.7%), and most hold a master's degree (78.8%). Currently, there are 277 Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc (ARC-PA) accredited programs in the United States.
Timeline of Physician Assistants in History:
- The first class of PAs graduates from Duke University's PA Program
- The American Association of Physician Assistants (now known as American Academy of Physician Assistants [AAPA]) was established
- First PA certification exam administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners
- First master's degree program in PA education offered from Duke University
- Mississippi becomes the 50th state to authorize PA practice
- The first clinical doctorate degree (DScPA) awarded by the US Army and Baylor University to Army PAs who completed an 18-month residency in emergency medicine
- The first time a PA was elected president of a university: Richard Muma, PhD, MPH, PA-C, at Wichita State University
- Resolution passed by the AAPA House of Delegates to change the title of the PA profession to "Physician Associate"
- The first time a PA was sent to space: On September 15, 2021, Hayley Arceneaux also became the first cancer survivor, person with artificial body parts, and youngest American to be sent to space
- Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. Accredited programs. www.arc-pa.org/accreditation/accredited-programs/. Accessed Oct 12, 2021.
- National Commission on Certification of PAs. Statistical profile of certified PAs - 2020. www.nccpa.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Statistical-Profile-of-Certified-PAs-2020.pdf. Accessed Oct 12, 2021.
- National Today. National physician assistant week - October 6-12, 2021. nationaltoday.com/national-physician-assistant-week/. Accessed Oct 12, 2021.
- Physician Assistant History Society. Timeline. pahx.org/timeline/. Accessed Oct 12, 2021.
Filed under: NPs & PAs