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.
The American Academy of Physician Assistants (formerly known as the American Association of Physician Assistants) was established and incorporated in the state of North Carolina in 1968. Initial membership was made up of the first students and graduates of the Duke University PA program, among which were former military corpsmen.
In 1973, 300 members strong, a joint national headquarters for AAPA and the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (now the Physician Assistant Education Association) was established in Washington, D.C. The headquarters moved to Arlington, Va., in the late 1970s and to Old Town Alexandria, VA, in 1988.
The Academy moved to its current location in the Carlyle area of Alexandria in 2011. The Oregon Society of Physician Assistants (OSPA) was incorporated in 1982, and today is the 'Definitive Voice of PAs in Oregon!'