George Washington University PA Program
The George Washington University Hospital began to employ a number of ex-military corpsmen with independent duty experience in 1969. They worked in the emergency room, under the direction of a physician. This experience was inordinately successful and the program was expanded.
The GW Physician Assistant Program, established in September 1972, was built on this successful experience and was among the first in the nation in an academic medical center. This new educational program was conceived to be a partial solution to the health manpower shortage of primary care physicians. It was decided that the physician assistant should be "trained in parallel with the student of medicine."
In 1986, GW launched a joint Physician Assistant/Master of Public Health Degree (PA/MPH), option for students interested in the clinical application of preventive medicine to be taught in an integrated and simultaneous fashion. There were few precedents at GW for a joint undergraduate and graduate program and that there were no other PA/MPH programs in the nation. Now, all students earn a Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) degree or a joint Master of Science in Health Sciences and Master of Public Health Degree (MSHS and MPH). The GW Physician Assistant Program has graduated more than 2,000 physician assistants. It has had continuous national accreditation since its inception. In July 2011, GW's Physician Assistant Program was elevated to department status, a true testament to its continued academic strength and contribution to the mission of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
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The photograph is courtesy of George Washington University PA Program.