David Asprey, PhD, DFAAPA, PA-C, has been an educator at the University of Iowa, College of Medicine (his alma mater) since 1990. He served numerous roles within the program, including Program Director, and is currently serving as the Department Chair. He also serves as the Associated Dean of Medical Education and Professional Programs in the College of Medicine, where the Iowa students complete 3 semesters with the medical students. He served as President for the Iowa PA Society and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). Asprey also was the editor and chief of the Journal of Physician Assistant Education (JPAE), helping the journal produce the joint issue with the Journal of the American Academy of PAs (JAAPA) for the PA profession’s 50th Anniversary. Asprey was the only PA to serve on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education.
Asprey grew up in southern Minnesota as one of four boys on a dairy farm and was the first in his family to obtain a college degree. While he was raised in a very small farming community, he had the good fortune of living just 30 minutes from the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and was intrigued by the hospital environment from an early age. Having two older brothers with an interest in farming, he decided to attend college to explore his options there. He was drawn to the life sciences and pursued a biology degree. Asprey recalls that he struggled to find a career choice that would best utilize his biology degree. While attending college, he came across a brochure on a bulletin board in the Biology Department that mentioned the PA profession. After exploring this option amongst the other health professions, he determined that becoming a PA would be a great fit.
Asprey graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota. He attained his Bachelor of Science from the University of Iowa’s PA program in 1987. In 1993, Asprey received his Master of Arts in Instructional Design and Technology from the University of Iowa. In 1999, he earned his PhD in Higher Education, also from the University of Iowa.
After graduation from PA school, Asprey practiced clinically in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He also spent 4 years working in the Emergency Medicine Department at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His first appointment as a PA educator was in 1990 at the University of Iowa’s PA program. There Asprey served as assistant director (1990-1994), associate director (1994-1997) and then interim director (1997-1998). He then accepted the position as the University of Iowa PA program director in 1998; a position Asprey held until 2012. At that time, Asprey became Chair of the Department of PA Studies and Services (2012-present). While serving in PA program leadership, Asprey concurrently served in the Dean’s Office. First, as assistant dean of the Office of Student Affairs and Curriculum (2009-2018) and then as associate dean of Medical Education and Professional Programs (2018-present). At the University of Iowa, Asprey has taught as a professor in the PA program, the Graduate Program in the Department of Physicial Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, and the Department of Pediatrics; he holds secondary appointments in both of these departments.
Asprey has served on the Journal of the American Academy of PAs’ Research and Review Editorial Board (1999-2012). He has also served on the Journal of PA Education as the Abstracts and Brief Reports Feature Editor (2008-2012), Assistant Editor (2012), and Editor-in-Chief (2013-2021). He is also a peer reviewer for various journals, including the Association of American Medical College’s Academic Medicine.
With the Association of PA Education (APAP), Asprey chaired numerous committees, such as the PA Professional Standards Committee, the Educational Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools, and the Governmental Relations Committee. He served as the APAP’s President from 2001-2002. He was a member of the APAP’s Transition Taskforce (2003-2006) to help the organization with the shift to its new title: Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).
Asprey has been a Fellow of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) and the Iowa PA Society since 1987. He served as the Iowa PA Society’s representative to the AAPA House of Delegates from 1989 to 1996. He was the Iowa PA Society President from 1990 to 1991, during which time the state was successful in receiving prescribing privileges for PAs.
Asprey has earned many awards, honors and recognitions in his career, and some include: the Iowa Physician Assistant Society’s Governmental Affairs Outstanding Service Award (1991) and Physician Assistant of the Year Award (2000); the Association of PA Programs/PA Education Association’s President’s Award (2002), Master Faculty Award (2011), and Outstanding Service Award (2021); and the Carver College of Medicine Student Government Advocacy Committee and Executive Council’s Ben Pardini Interdisciplinary Teaching Award (2011). In 2022, Asprey was appointed as the Denis R. Oliver Endowed Chair within his department in the Carver College of Medicine. The Endowed Chair is the highest honor given to faculty members of the University of Iowa.
Acknowledgments: This biography was prepared by PA History Society staff with the assistance of Dr. Asprey, Tony Brenneman, and Patrick Knott. This biography was submitted to the Society in March of 2023. Photographs are courtesy of Dr. Asprey.