October 6, 1967
On October 6, 1967, the first Physician Assistants (PAs) graduated from Duke University. The first PAs originally served as corpsmen and medics during the Vietnam War. During their military tours of duty, they received significant medical training. Once their military obligations were completed, they were unable to utilize their skill sets in the civilian sector. Dr. Eugene Stead developed a formal curriculum for PAs that was partly based on the expedited training of medical doctors during WWII to help improve the populations’ access to primary care. Dr. Stead, who died in 2006 at the age of 96, was a visionary whose legacy can be counted in the more than 86,000 PAs who are working worldwide and the more than 1,900 PAs working for the VA. The VA is the single largest employer of PAs.
There are approximately 65 PAs at the Durham VAMC and our CBOCs who provide care in many different services. These “PArtners in Health Care” work in clinical, research, and administrative positions for our diverse veteran population in close collaboration with their supervising physicians.
Information provided from the Durham VAMC.
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