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Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Physicians Assistant Program


PA History



Barefoot doctors emerge in China in response to Chairman Mao’s purge of the elite and intellectual, which sent many physicians into the fields to work and left peasants without medical personnel.


The first class of PA’s graduate from Duke University.


The PA Program at Alderson-Broaddus College enrolls its first class.  The Health Manpower Act funds the training of a variety of health providers.  Volume 1 No.1 of the Physician Assistant is published. The journal later ceases publication.  The American Association of Physician Assistants later becomes the American Academy of Physicians Assistants (AAPA) as it is founded.


The first class enters the MEDEX Program at the University of Washington. Colorado becomes the first state to enact legislation enabling child health associations to work.


Kaiser Permanente becomes the first health maintenance organization (HMO) to employ a PA.


The American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes the PA Profession and begins work on a means of national certification and codification of PA practice characteristics.    The Comprehensive Health Manpower Training Act contracts for PA education and employment.


The Physician Assistant: Today and Tomorrow by Sadler, Sadler, and Bliss, the first book about the PA profession, is published. The Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP) is founded. The four year PA program at Alderson-Broaddus College graduates its first class. The Essentials, accreditation standards for PA Programs are adopted by the AMA; the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs for Physicians Assistants is formed to evaluate compliance with standards. Federal support for PA education is authorized by the Health Resource Administration.


The First Annual Physician Assistant Conference is held at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and draws 275 attendees. The AAPA and APAP establish a national office in Washington, DC. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants is established. The National Board of Medical Examiners administers the first certifying examinations for primary care PAs. The American Association of Surgeon Assistants, later known as the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants, is founded.


The AAPA becomes an official collaborating organization on the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs for Physician Assistants. The committee reviews physician and surgeon assistant programs and makes accreditation recommendations to the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation. The American College of Surgeons becomes a sponsoring organization of the Joint Review Committee.


The Physician Assistant, by Ford, is published.


Federal support of PA education continues under grants from the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act.


The Physician’s Assistant: A Baccalaureate Curriculum, by Myers, is published. The AAPA Educational and Research Foundation (later renamed Physician Assistant Foundation) is incorporated to recruit public and private contributions for student financial assistance and to support research on the profession. The Rural Health Clinic Services Act, passed by congress, provides Medicare reimbursement of PA and nurse practitioner services in rural clinics. The journal Health Practitioner (later renamed Physician Assistant) appears. Still later, the publication is distributed as the official publication of AAPA.


The Physician Assistant: Innovation in the Division of Medical Labor, by Schneller, is published. The House of Delegates becomes the policy-making legislative body of the AAPA. The US Air Force first appoints PA’s as commissioned officers.


The Graduate Medical Education National Advisory Committee predicts a surplus of physicians and non-physician providers in the near future.


The AAPA Political Action Committee is established to support candidates for federal office who support the PA profession.


Staffing Primary Care in 1990: Physician Replacement and Cost Savings, by Record, is published, documenting that PAs in HMOs provide 79% of the care provided by a primary care physician at 50% of the cost. The Art of Teaching Primary Care, by Golden and Hagor is published.


Physician Assistants: Their Contribution to Health Care, by Perry and Breitner, is published.


First Annual Report on Physician Assistant Education Programs in the United States, by Oliver and APAP, is issued. The Health Care Industry Advisory Council is established. Alternatives in Health Care, by Carter and Perry is published.


The AAPA’s first Burroughs Wellcome Health Policy Fellowship fellow is named. AAPA membership surpasses 10,000; categories are expanded to include physicians, affiliates, and sustaining members. The AAPA and APAP begin a joint project, PA Job Find, to provide PA graduates with a national job-bank service.


The AAPA succeeds in a legislative drive for coverage of PA services under Medicare Part B in hospitals and nursing homes and when assisting in surgery (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). A videotape, A Dynamic Profession: Past-Present-Future, is produced by the AAPA. Physician Assistants: New Models of Utilization, by Zarbock and Harbert, is published.


The Physician Assistant in a Changing Health Care Environment, by Schafft and Cawley is published. National PA Day (October 6) is established; the date is also the anniversary of the first graduating class of PAs from the Duke University program 20 years earlier. New AAPA headquarters in Alexandria, VA, open. The AAPA contracts to publish the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA). The new editor is the first PA hired for the AAPA professional staff. Additional Medicare coverage of PA services (in rural, underserved areas) is approved by Congress.


Volume1, No. 1 of JAAPA is published. The Duke University PA Program awards the first master’s degree for PA education.


The AAPA assumes the administrative responsibility for the Accreditation Review Committee on Education for Physician Assistants (formerly the Joint Review Committee). US Navy PAs are commissioned.


US Army and US Coast Guard PAs are commissioned.


The Roles of Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners in Primary Care, edited by Clawson and Osterweis, is published. 24,600 PAs are recognized for practice in all but one of the 50 states, all US territories and the District of Columbia.


Physician Assistant: A Guide to Clinical Practice, edited by Ballweg, Stolberg, and Sullivan, is published.


The Physician Assistant Medical Handbook, edited by Labus, is published


The AAPA is granted observer status in the House of Delegates of the AMA


The number of PA Programs approaches 100. Approximately 30,000 practicing PAs are in the American health workforce. Physician Assistants in American Medicine, by Hooker and Cawley, is published. JAAPA marks its 10th year of publication. SIUC admits first class.

Revised By; 5/10fjk

The mission of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health care needs through education, patient care, research, and service to the community.


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