Recognizing and honoring Physician Assistants – National Physician Assistant Week – October 6-12

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PA Week LogoOctober 6-12 is National Physician Assistant Week, and we take this opportunity to recognize all of the FastMed Physician Assistants (PAs). National PA Week is also designed to help educate the patients in communities that Physician Assistants serve.

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the PA profession was created in the 1960’s to improve and expand access to healthcare due to a shortage of primary care physicians. Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center started the first PA class that graduated as PAs from the Duke University on Oct. 6, 1967.

PAMore than 100,000 physician assistants have been certified by NCCPA since 1975, and approximately 84,000 are certified today nationwide providing care each day in primary care practices, urgent cares, internal medicine, hospital ERs and other medical specialty practices.

A Physician Assistant works with Physicians to treat patients by:

  • Examine, test, diagnose and treat patients
  • Provide preventive care counsel as part of the healthcare team
  • Obtain patient history
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Formulate a differential diagnosis (options for diagnostic procedure and treatment alternatives)
  • Order and interpret tests
  • Formulate, implement and perform therapeutic and diagnostic procedures
  • Prescribe medications
  • Assist in surgery

PAPhysician Assistants support a preventative care model for patients, helping to identify warning signs and symptoms of chronic illnesses, or other factors related to a patient’s ailment which results in preventing higher cost health care treatments.

The average length of a PA education program is 27 months, completed during undergraduate education or post-graduate studies, for a total of 4–7 years of postsecondary medical education and training.

PA education includes instruction in core sciences: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, physical diagnosis, pathophysiology, microbiology, clinical laboratory science, behavioral science and medical ethics.

The Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C) was begun in 1971 when the American Medical Association (AMA) Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) developed training program guidelines and implemented a program accreditation. And in 1975 the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) was established to assure the public that certified physician assistants meet professional standards of clinical knowledge and cognitive skills.

Certified Physician Assistant must graduate from an accredited PA program and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), a test that comprises 360 questions that assess basic medical and surgical knowledge.

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass spoke on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today to recognize National Physician Assistant Week:

More information on Physician Assistants, their roll in medicine, PA statistics and source references, please visit the following authorities:

American Academy of Physician Assistants –

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants –

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants – PANCE

Physician Assistant Education Association –


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