The Society’s Museum Collection features artwork, artifacts and exhibitions that interpret the story of physician assistant profession from its inception and development in the United States in the 20th Century to its expansion internationally in the 21st Century. The Society maintains museum collections at two primary locations:
The Society’s National Office in Johns Creek, GA. The general museum collection maintained in this location includes medical equipment, photographs, posters, military uniforms, PA school patches, organization promotional pins, memorabilia from national meetings and other items of general interest.
The Eugene A. Stead, Jr. Center for Physician Assistants, Durham NC. The building features a replica of Dr. Stead’s office at his home on the lake in Bullock, NC, complete with furniture, decorations, pictures and awards that he donated to the Society before his death. A formal garden behind the building is decorated with statuary also donated from Dr. Stead’s estate. In addition, the building also houses wall exhibits and display cases honoring the founders of the profession, the development of national PA professional organizations and marketing the profession to the general public. There is a wall exhibit sponsored by the PA Veterans Caucus and outside a Veterans Memorial Garden featuring a life-size combat medic bronze statue titled “life savers then, care givers now.” Click here to view the Guide to Stead Center Archival Collections.
- Presenting the History of the PA Profession at the Stead Center in Durham, NC. – This exhibit provides an overview of the creation of the Stead Office Museum, Exhibits and Displays found in the building and on the grounds in Durham, NC.
- Stead Collection -- to view images of 72 objects and 40 photographs donated by Dr. Stead’s family soon after his death in June 2005 and are maintained by the Society at the Eugene A. Stead, Jr. Center for Physician Assistants in Durham, NC.
- John McElligott Veterans Memorial Garden – The garden is located on the grounds of the Eugene A. Stead, Jr. Center for Physician Assistants in Durham, NC. The garden features a life-size combat medic bronze statue titled “Life Savers Then ... Care Givers Now.”
- Reflections Wall Exhibit – Members of the Veterans Caucus made this wall exhibit possible. Tim Egan, Vic Germino and Ken Harbert donated posters to the Society to have placed in the Eugene A. Stead Jr. Center. The posters include “Reflections” by artist David Ehlert, “God loves the Grunt” and “Life Savers Then …Care Givers Now” by artist George L. Skypeck and “Veterans Caucus poster “Honoring Navy PAs – Memorial Day, May 31, 1999.”
- PA Program Patches - View our collection of patches donated from various PA programs throughout the country.
- Pins and Buttons - View the collection of pins and buttons donated to the PA History Society.
Our online exhibits are drawn from resources found in our collection of archive, library and museum holdings and may include posters, physical exhibits and presentations given at national and regional meetings. Exhibits are a way of showcasing these items and providing more depth information about how these items have played a role in the development and growth of the PA Profession.
Most of the exhibits have been prepared by the Society and its staff. However, the Society will accept donated exhibits from third parties if deemed relevant and meets our quality standards.
Most of the exhibits require that you have Adobe Reader™ software installed on your computer to view.
Exhibit by Les Howard, PA
This booklet was produced by the African Heritage Caucus and distributed to members during the 25th Annual AAPA Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1997. It contains brief biographies of PAs who are of African American heritage and who have become or who are in the process of becoming leaders in the PA profession. The booklet was made possible by the Howard PA Program and especially by Brenda Jasper who kept a history of the contributions of those highlighted in the booklet. As stated in the forward by Les Howard, “Having our history archived ensures that, we of African Heritage, maintain a presence, honor our elders, and pass the word to the next generation.”
The booklet presents individuals from three different generations of PAs and those who played an important role in establishing the African Heritage Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Exhibit produced by Northwest MEDEX/PA Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
In 1967 John Betz was recruited by Dr. Richard Smith to train for a new category of mid-level healthcare practitioners with MEDEX Northwest at the University of Washington. Along with twelve other military medics and corpsmen, Betz became a pioneer in the physician assistant profession. With his fellow classmate, Paul Snyder, PA-C retired, Betz was assigned to small rural clinic in Othello, WA where he remained in practice for 44 years until his retirement in 2014. This online presentation uses a format made popular by the digital version of New York Times to tell a complex story in words, photos and video clips. Along the way, this story touches on several compelling elements that reflect current concerns.
Exhibit by Ann Bliss, BS, RN, MSW, LCSW
PA History Society Trustee
Although Dr. Eugene Stead is the recognized father of the physician assistant profession, few people know that William Anlyan, M.D. was its uncle. As Dean of Duke University’s School of Medicine, Anlyan stood staunchly behind Stead’s decade-long innovative, but ill-fated, Masters Nurse Practitioner program in the 1950s. In addition, Anlyan’s influential leadership helped Stead’s subsequent PA concept gain federal funding as well as national recognition and replication in the 1960s and 1970s. It is important that we recognize individuals who “worked behind the scene” to sustain the PA Profession at a crucial time in its development.
Exhibit by John Braun, PA, MPH
In this missive, Braun recalls his two encounters with President John F. Kennedy. The first contact occurred in 1960 when he was a senior in High School. He saw Senator Kennedy, a presidential candidate, in a motorcade; they made eye contact and “I felt an instant connection with someone of whom I had only slightly ever heard his name.” The next encounter was while Braun was in the Navy serving as an Operating Room Technician in Bethesda Naval Hospital. Kennedy had been assassinated and his body flown to Bethesda for an autopsy. Braun indirectly became involved in the events that occurred the evening of November 22, 1963.
Exhibit by Pam Moyers Scott, MPAS, PA-C, Reginald D. Carter, Ph.D., PA and Adonna L. Thompson, MLS
The following articles prepared by the publication committee of the Society for Preservation of PA History appeared in Advance for Physician Assistants during 2005, 2006 and 2007. The articles cover a broad range of topics that are based on illustrations drawn from the Society's growing collection of digital items including photographs, documents, pamphlets and artifacts. The articles trace the development of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Association of Physician Assistant Programs, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and the development of the profession in general.
Exhibit by Dr. Reginald Carter, PA-C, PhD, Anthony Miller, MEd, PA-C, and Cynthia B. Lord, MHS, PA-C
In 1990, Cynthia B. Lord, the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA) liaison to APAP (now PAEA), met with APAP board members Anthony A. Miller and Albert F. Simon to discuss how they might entice more students to attend the AAPA's annual conference. They came up with the idea to hold a Jeopardy-style, friendly competition that would match PA Program teams of three students, testing them on their medical knowledge. Therefore, the first Medical Challenge Bowl was held during the AAPA conference in 1991. Today, this event is considered a mainstay of the conference, and is funded by PA and medical organizations. In 2014, the NCCPA was a co-sponsor of the SAAAPA National Medical Challenge Bowl.
Exhibit by Dr. Reginald Carter, PA-C, PhD
Although generally recognized as the originator of the physician assistant concept, Dr. Eugene A. Stead, Jr. is the first to note that the idea was not his exclusively. Prior to the development of the physician assistant program at Duke University in 1965, many physicians were training their own assistants on the job. Stead was aware particularly of one such proprietary trained assistant, Mr. Henry Lee “Buddy” Treadwell, who was trained by and worked with Dr. Amos Johnson in general practice in Garland, North Carolina. This relationship crystallized Stead’s vision of how a physician’s assistant could be used to help over-worked doctors deliver health care services.
Exhibit by Dr. Reginald Carter, PA-C, PhD
At a critical time in its development, the PA profession gained public attention from two unlikely sources of support – a television show promoter and novice script writer, Jerry Bredouw, and a syndicated newspaper cartoonist, Dick Moores. Both were intrigued by the plight of ex-military corpsmen whose clinical training and skills could not be readily used in the civilian health sector. Their stories are intertwined and reveal how serendipity helped market the PA concept to the American Public in 1970 through an episode of NBC’s THE BOLD ONES and the Chicago Tribune’s GASOLINE ALLEY COMIC STRIP.
Please contact us to recommend significant events that should be developed and presented as an exhibit. Your suggestions will be forwarded to the appropriate committee for deliberation and feedback.