Birthplace of the PA Profession

The physician assistant (PA) profession originated at Duke in 1965. Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., then-chairman of the Department of Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine, believed that mid-level practitioners could increase consumer access to health services by extending the time and skills of the physician. He began a two-year curriculum to train people to fill a societal need for more medical practitioners, and expand the prior education and experience of ex-military corpsmen.

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Timeline: Birth of a Profession

Physician Assistant Program in Duke University Health System

Department Affiliation

The Duke Physician Assistant Program is an educational program in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in the Duke University School of Medicine. The department is dedicated to improving the health of people in their communities by working with communities to improve understanding of health and illness in the family, workplace, and community; to develop and evaluate collaborative interventions that improve health and prevent disease; and to implement educational programs for a wide variety of medical professionals. The department is composed of five interdependent divisions — Community Health, Family Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Physician Assistant and Student Health.

Duke University Health System

The Duke University School of Medicine is part of the Duke University Health system, which also includes Duke University School of Nursing, three hospitals, outpatient services, a primary care network, and more.