2001 to 2010

Going International

As the new programs developed in the last decade grow and expand, record numbers of PAs take the certifying examination. As the profession celebrates its 40th anniversary, international interest in the PA model of health care delivery grows with the establishment of PA educational programs in seven countries. In 2001, ARC-PA becomes a freestanding accreditation agency. APAP launches a Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. The Physician Assistant History Society is established in Durham, NC in 2002. Increasing numbers of PAs are appointed to positions in Federal agencies, and in 2004, two PAs are elected to state legislatures. In 2005, APAP changes its name to the Physician Assistant Education Association; a year later the organization holds its first meeting outside the United States in Quebec, CAN. ARC-PA awards accreditation to two postgraduate programs, and the US Army and Baylor University create the first doctoral degree program. New regulations limiting the number of hours that medical residents may work without relief opens the door to expanding opportunities for PAs in hospital settings. In 2010 President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, potentially adding 20-30 million patients to the ranks of the insured population.



ARC-PA, now called the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, begins operation as a freestanding accreditation agency for the physician assistant profession.

The NCCPA offers a second administration of PANRE and Pathway II each year and implements new certification maintenance requirements to end the practice of renewing certificates for PAs who fail the examination.

NCCPA announces that it will now assume responsibility for recording all CME hours for purposes of re-registration of certificates, and recertification, ending 25 years of service by AAPA as an intermediary.  AAPA will continue to approve educational activities for credit.

APAP launches a Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). CASPA provides PA applicants a convenient, state-of-the-art, web-based application service that allows them to apply to any number of participating PA programs by completing a single application.

The Physician Assistant History Office is established in Durham, NC, as a joint effort of the Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center and the AAPA, APAP and NCCPA. The office is dedicated to study, preserve and present the history of the PA profession.

PA Role is introduced in the Netherlands at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht.


Representatives from the AAPA, ARC-PA, APAP and NCCPA begin regular meetings to share mutual interests related to the PA profession.

The Physician Assistant History Society is incorporated (as the Society for the Preservation of Physician Assistant History, Inc.) for educational, research and literary purposes. The Society’s mission is to foster the preservation, study and presentation of the history of the physician assistant profession. The Society’s Board of Directors meets for first time in Boston, MA. Jeffrey Heinrich, EdD, PA-C is elected President; Reginald Carter, PhD, PA is appointed as the Executive Director and official Historian.

A special issue of JAAPA chronicles the 35th anniversary of the graduation of the first formally-trained PAs in 1967.

Canadian, Dutch and British delegations meet during the AAPA’s Annual Conference in Boston.

APAP celebrates its 30th Anniversary at the Education Forum held in Miami. Pioneering Leaders, including Thomas Piemme, MD, Donald Fisher, PhD, and Suzanne Greenberg, MS, reminisce about the founding of the Association and the establishment of the AAPA/APAP national office.

The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) affirms its policy to limit medical and surgical resident working hours in order to reduce fatigue and stress. A byproduct is an increase in opportunities for PAs in the hospital setting.

Canadian Military transitions former medical training program to PA curriculum.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expands the ability of PAs to have an ownership interest in a practice under the Medicare program.

A PA program at Base Borden in Ontario becomes the first accredited PA program in Canada. PAs are introduced in England through a government sponsored pilot project.

For the first time, three PAs among 34 candidates are selected as primary health care fellows by the Department of Health and Human Services.

More than 99 percent of the PAs whose 2000-2002 Category I CME hours are audited pass the NCCPA’s inaugural CME audit.

The Canadian Medical Association recognizes the PA Profession as a designated health profession, eligible for the CMA accreditation.

Although appointment to Federal agencies had occurred previously (most notably to the National Health Service Corps), PAs are now regularly appointed to Federal Advisory Committees by the Department of Health and Human Services. The committees oversee areas of medicine of particular interest to the PA profession, e.g., primary care training, rural health initiatives and human services.  PAs are included as members of the Title 7 Advisory Committee.

Canadian Medical Association agrees to accredit Canadian PA Programs.


Karen Bass, PA-C, of California and Mark Hollo, PA-C, of North Carolina become the first PAs to be elected to state legislatures.

ARC-PA is awarded recognition as the formal accrediting body for physician assistant education by the Council for Higher Education.  Its corporate offices are moved to Johns Creek, GA, in the same building as the headquarters of the NCCPA.

The annual Conference of AAPA, held in Las Vegas, NV, attracts 10,500 registrants – the largest in its history.


A report entitled, Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession, is developed jointly, and approved by the four major physician assistant organizations (NCCPA, PAEA, AAPA and ARC-PA).

The member programs of the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP) vote to change the organization’s name to the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

The University of Herefordshire, England, inaugurates the first PA program in the United Kingdom. The Netherlands graduates its first class of PAs.

The US Virgin Islands approves legislation permitting PAs to be licensed to practice medicine.

Eugene A. Stead, Jr., dies at the age of 96 at his home in North Carolina.

First Canadian Certification Exam Offered by the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada.

The first German PA program opened its doors at Steinbeis University Berlin.


USPHS Rear Admiral Mike Milner becomes the first PA flag officer.

The Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) moves into new office space in Alexandria, VA, as an independent organization after 36 years of sharing a joint national office with AAPA.

Scotland introduces 12 PAs in a pilot program developed by the National Health Service.

PAEA holds its first annual meeting outside the United States in Quebec City, Canada.

Over a 2 year period, 20 US PAs are recruited for a PA pilot in Scotland.


The U.S. Army and Baylor University award the first clinical doctorate degree (DScPA) to Army PAs who successfully complete an 18-month residency in emergency medicine at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX.

The United States celebrates the 40th anniversary of the graduation of the first formally trained physician assistants, Kenneth Ferrell, Victor Germino and Richard Schelle.

PAEA celebrates its 35th anniversary as an organization.

Globalization of the PA concept accelerates in several countries, including Australia, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Scotland, South Africa, and Taiwan, where medical workers are trained to function under the supervision of a doctor.

Health Force Ontario, an initiative by the Ontario Ministry of Health, begins a pilot program introducing PAs in the province.

Indiana passes legislation allowing PAs to prescribe. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam now allow PAs to prescribe.

PA establishes pilot program in Emergency Medicine for PAs and International Medical Graduates in Canada.


The AAPA celebrates its 40th Anniversary.

Manitoba begins the first civilian Canadian PA program.

For the first time, ARC-PA awards its accreditation to two postgraduate PA programs: the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center PA Postgraduate Program in Oncology (Houston), and the Johns Hopkins Hospital Postgraduate Surgical Residency for PAs (Baltimore).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies the PA profession as one of 30 occupations expected to grow rapidly over the next decade.

University of Manitoba and McMasters University open first civilian educational PA Programs in Canada.

PAs are formally introduced by the Health Ministry of South Africa as a means to address chronic health workforce shortages, especially in rural and otherwise underserved areas of the country.


E. Harvey Estes, MD, is awarded the first Eugene A. Stead, Jr., Award of Achievement by AAPA.

The AAPA and PAEA host a PA Clinical Doctorate Summit in Atlanta. Fifty independent representatives, from within and outside the PA profession, discuss whether the clinical doctoral degree should be awarded as a post-graduate degree to PAs. The Summit endorses the master’s degree as the terminal degree for PA clinical education. A doctorate degree is reserved for postgraduate education in another discipline. Click here to read the full report.

Queensland, Australia conducts a one-year pilot sponsored by the Ministry of Health that places five US PAs in rural, remote and urban sites. South Australia also implements a pilot for three US PAs in surgery.

The University of Queensland opens the first Australian PA Program for experienced health care personnel in Brisbane.

The premier issue of PA Professional, an official monthly publication replacing AAPA News, is issued by AAPA in June.

First PA program opened at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.


AAPA President Stephen Hanson, PAEA President Kevin Lohenry and six other PAs attend a White House conference at which President Barack Obama calls on Congress to take action on health care reform.

The AAPA hosts a two-day Research Summit to initiate a research agenda for the PA profession. Click here to read the full report.

President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with a gradual implementation timeline through 2014. Provisions of the act, when fully established, will add 30 million persons to the ranks of those who are fully insured. The need for additional health manpower, especially in primary care, will be greater than anything seen since the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1966.

New Zealand begins its first PA pilot with two US surgical PAs filling hospitalist roles in a surgical teaching setting.

The NCCPA hosts its first international meeting at its headquarters in Atlanta to discuss certification, test item banking and other regulatory issues with international PA program representatives.

AAPA and the American College of Physicians release a policy monograph entitled, Internists and Physician Assistants: Team-based Primary Care, that supports the critical roles PAs and physicians play in improving access to quality primary care.

The first PA program in the Middle East, offered by the Medical Services Directorate of Ministry of Defense and Aviation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is launched  at the Prince Sultan Military College of Health Professions in Dharhan in partnership with George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

End of the Decade

Number of PA programs accredited: 148

Number of physician assistants initially certified: 92,049