Gail Curtis, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina is an Emeritus Associate Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at Wake Forest School of Medicine after retiring as Chair in June 2021. From 2017-2018, she served as President and Chair of the Board of AAPA and previously held positions as Vice President and Speaker of the House of Delegates for the AAPA or the AAPA BOD for a total of 9 years. Additionally, she was the recipient of North Carolina Academy’s PA of the Year Award for 2013.
Curtis graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington with a Bachelors Degree – Magna Cum Laude with Honors – in biology/psychology. She was in the 1981 PA graduating class of the Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now Wake Forest School of Medicine) with Robert Wooten. In 2003, she earned a Masters Degree in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska.
Curtis’ entire clinical and academic career was at Wake Forest. She was initially hired in the Department of Otolaryngology, then the Department of I’M Pulmonology, and finally Family Medicine where she practiced for 36 years. She added being an educator in PA Studies in 2007 where she held joint appointments in both Family Medicine and PA Studies until retiring after nearly 40 years of service to Wake Forest. In each department, she has had significant non-clinical leadership roles including the administration of a Robert Wood Johnson asthma study, co-directing the Center for Health Promotion and serving as the Program Director for the Wake Forest University’s Weight Management Program. She became an instructor in the Wake Forest Department of Family Medicine in 1986 and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1991. She was recruited to the Department of PA Studies in 2007 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. In 2011, she was named Vice Chair of the Department of PA Studies and later served as Chair of the Department for 7 years until retiring in the Summer of 2021.
Simultaneously, Curtis began her involvement and service with the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (NCAPA) on a trajectory that would take her up into the highest leadership positions within the American Academy of Physician Assistants, where she served as President from 2017-2018. Her NCAPA leadership includes a 3-year presidential term, a 20+ year history as the North Carolina Chief Delegate to the AAPA House of Delegates, ongoing involvement with the North Carolina Medical Board to maximize PA practice opportunities, and leadership to create the NCAPA Health Committee. In support of PAs with impairment issues, she helped promulgate the gold standard legislation that created the North Carolina Physicians Health Program and inclusion of PAs in this program. Curtis also served as the NCAPA Liaison to the North Carolina Physician’s Health Program (NCPHP) and served on their Compliance Committee and Board of Directors.
In 1986, 1996, and 1997, Curtis received the NCAPA Award of Appreciation. In 2010 she received the NCAPA Outstanding Service Award, and in 2013 she was named the Physician Assistant of the Year.
Nationally, Curtis is well known and highly visible as a speaker, writer, researcher, and editorial board member. Her work focuses on clinical topics such as otolaryngology, impairment, and obesity, as well as PA role issues such as regulatory updates, controlled prescribing, relationships with nurse practitioners, and the expanded numbers of women within the PA profession. She has been a recipient of two HRSA federal grants on “Advancing Communication, Cultural Competency and Diversity” and “PAs Meeting Vulnerable Patients’ Health Literacy Needs.” Curtis also served as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Journal of the North Carolina Medical Society.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Ruth Ballweg, MPA, PA-C, and was submitted to the Society in June 2015. The biography was updated in August, 2022, by Josh Penninger. Photographs are courtesy of Ms. Curtis.