​​​​History of the PA Profession

The first educational program for PAs began in the mid-1960s in response to a perceived shortage of physicians. At the same time, many corpsmen, well skilled in trauma and surgical interventions, were interested in pursuing careers in the medical field after their return from the Vietnam War.  As a result, Dr. Eugene Stead, chairman of the Department of Medicine at Duke University, established a program to formally educate PAs improve and expand healthcare services, particularly in rural and other medically underserved populations with physician supervision.  The education model was based in part on his experience of fast-track training of doctors during World War II.  In the late 1990's a white paper developed by the Association of Physician Assistant Programs, recommended the move from undergraduate training to graduate level training.  In 2007, there were 4600 students who sat for the national certifying examination (PANCE) which is administered by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).  For more information about the history of the PA profession, please visit the AAPA and Society for the Preservation of Physician Assistant History.

The PA concept has grown substantially over the past several decades.  According to the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), as of April 2015, there are 196 accredited PA programs throughout the country and today, and most offer graduate degrees.  After 2020, all PA programs will offer graduate degrees.  Furthermore, PAs now practice in all 50 states and internationally in primary healthcare and internal medicine, as well as in specialty fields such as surgery, orthopedics, and cardiology to name a few.  To learn more about the demographic and practice characteristics of certified PA currently practicing in the USA, visit the NCCPA research webpage and the Bureau for Labor Statistics.


Professional Organizations

American Academy of Physician Assistants:

Financial Aid Resources: http://www.aapa.org/your_pa_career/pa_students/resources/item.aspx?id=913

Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants:
Michigan PA Foundation

National Commission on Certification for Physician Assistants:

Physician Assistant Education Association:

PA Focus: 

Other Organizations:

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA)

Society for the Preservation of Physician Assistant History, Inc. (PA History Society) 

National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions


Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA), www.jaapa.com

JAAPA is the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. In line with the mission of the AAPA, this monthly publication highlights developments, research, and clinical information pertinent to physician assistant educational and professional issues.

Cover of JAAPA


Journal of Physician Assistant Education (JPAE)

JPAE is the official journal of the Physician Assistant Education Association.  This peer reviewed quarterly publication is dedicated to advancing PA education.  Before 2006 this publication was known as Perspective on Physician Assistant Education.

Cover for JPAE.

 PAEA photo.jpg

 Useful Resources and Links

Please visit our resource page for additional Central Michigan University Resources​

Inter Professional Resources 

PAs work as part of the clinical and medical interdisciplinary healthcare team, and are instrumental in the rendering of quality and comprehensive patient-centered care management.  Resources on interdisciplinary professional education and training are available at:

Interprofessional Education Collaboration (IPEC)

Education to Practice (E2P)

Career Opportunities

MAPA, http://phyast.mi.associationcareernetwork.com/Common/HomePage.aspx

Medical Opportunities in Michigan (MOM), https://michigan.medopps.org

CMU PA Job Board​– This job board is for our PA alumni and soon-to-be graduates who enter the workforce each summer.  If you are a potential employer, please send to the PA program office (CMUPAPROGRAM@cmich.edu) your PA job description for us to post in this job board and our alumni listserv.  (Please note, additional PA recruitment resources are available through the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) and Michigan Health Council's Medical Opportunities in Michigan program.)   ​

​​​Other Opportunities:​

Medical Opportunities in Michigan(MOM) is a free career resource.  MOM is designed to keep our talented healthcare workforce in Michigan by connecting PAs directly to Michigan employers and jobs.  If you have not done so already please take a moment to print and post the attached flyer in a visible location for students and alumni.  Also, please consider forwarding this email to students and alumni as a reminder so they can utilize all the benefits of MOM: www.miMOM.org.

Physician Assistants can:
  • ​Register online for free & match with opportunities immediately!
  • Connect directly with 100's of employers.
  • Search jobs by specialty and location
MOM is a non-profit organization working to connect PA's with opportunities in Michigan but we also post faculty positions for free!  Please don't hesitate to call 800-479-1666 if you have any questions.​

PACrossmatch.com, a refreshing approach to physician assistant employment.  PACM is created, owned, and operated by PAs for PAs, not to mention 100% free for all PA and employer users.  PACM is built as an online workstation utilizing an intelligently designed system to match PAs with the best possible job available.  PACrossmatch allows you to tailor your employment search as you see fit, press enter, and instantly see PACM deliver jobs directly to your dashboard based specifically on your personal and professional interests.

View your matches, search PACM's Job Board, construct, store, or upload your CV and apply directly through PACM.  Not actively looking for employment? Simply fine-tune your profile settings and your CV will not be visible to employers.  We feature​ a PA focused e-news letter with current PA happenings and most importantly provide a source for questions and answers from practicing physician assistants within the PA community. Signup at PACrossmatch.com for free and connect with the employers you are looking for. Contact us at info@pacrossmatch.com. ​

PA Salaries

Malpractice Insurance Considerations

PAs share legal responsibilities in caring for patients with their supervising physicians, and as a result they must carry malpractice insurance. This insurance is available to PAs as riders to the malpractice policies of employing physicians, or it is available through the hospital systems where they work. Such insurance is also available on an individual basis through the American Academy of Physician Assistants, 950 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1552; phone (703) 836-2272; fax (703) 684-1924; e-mail aapa@aapa.org  

[Revised May 2015]