Featured Associate: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Fifty years ago, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Physician Assistant Program accepted its first four students. The founder of the nation’s first formal educational program to train surgical physician assistants, John Webster Kirklin (1917-2004), was also a pioneer in the development of cardiac surgery. He modified and made clinically workable a heart-lung bypass machine (Mayo-Gibbon pump) when none were reliable. He made innovations and taught precision in operative techniques, patient care, pathophysiology of cardiopulmonary bypass; and he wrote and co-edited a current standard textbook in cardiac surgery.

The 27-month program has continued to be at the forefront of innovation and change. The move from a certificate, Bachelor and now a Master degree reflects the maturity of the profession, program and the commitment to change. The program is proud of its joint MPH/MSPAS degree, pipeline programs and community involvement through a student-led clinic at the Firehouse Shelter in the city. From the humble beginnings of a class of four students in 1967 to a class of 90 students in 2016, the program continues to grow in both size and educational opportunities.

State of the art facilities and collaboration with other schools and departments within the University allows student access to simulation facilities for Interprofessional simulation, Standardized Patients, clinical skills labs and intensive procedural based hands-on training. As technology has changed, the program has participated in adapting the best learning modalities possible for its students.

To learn more about the UAB PA program, please click here.