Dr. David Edmund Lewis assisted Dr. Robert Howard in establishing the American Registry of Physicians’ Associates which was the forerunner the National Commission on Physician Assistant Certification (NCCPA) of the American Association of Physician Assistants (now the PAEA). He compiled one of the first test item banks distributed to member programs of the Registry to be administered to students. No significant differences were found on performance of students enrolled in these programs indicating consistency in their curriculums. Lewis participated in preliminary discussions and was present when the Association was formed in 1972 and served on many of the organization’s committees and as president of the Association from 1980-81.
Lewis served as the assistant director of the Duke University PA program from 1968 to 1972. He was hired by Dr. Robert Howard, program director, to strengthen and coordinate the academic training of physician assistants. He helped gain academic recognition for the program within the Duke Community and navigated the program’s transition from a certificate to a bachelor degree granting curriculum. Lewis helped plan and participated in a series of four conferences held at Duke between 1968 and 1972. Topic discussed included legal, ethical, economical, curricular and accreditation issues. The conference brought together a diversity of professionals from both the private and public sector of health care; educators, lawyers, health policy makers and representatives from leading medical, hospital and nursing organizations.
Lewis participated in early studies about the PA profession and helped promote the profession by talking to various medical groups. While at Duke, Lewis conducted the program’s first self-study for accreditation and was responsible for filing quarterly reports to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare required under the first federal contracts for PA training.
While at Duke, he took the opportunity to enroll in the Department of Education receiving his EdD from the University in 1975. His thesis detailed the establishment of the Duke University Physician Assistant Program and its curriculum.
Lewis left Duke in 1972 to help establish a PA Program at the Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, FL. The program remained there for five years, awarding an Associate of Science degree to its graduates. In 1977, the Program moved to the College of Medicine at the University of Florida and began to confer the Bachelor of Science degree upon its graduates.
In recognition of his contributions to the profession, Lewis was made an Honorary PA of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) in 1982 and the Duke University PA Program (2008).
Acknowledgments:This Biographical Sketch was prepared by Reginald Carter, PhD, PA and submitted to the PA History Society in June 2015. The photograph is courtesy of Duke University PA Program.