Gone but Not Forgotten: Ruth Ballweg

With great sadness the PA History Society says goodbye to one of its founding members and leaders, Ruth Ballweg, MPA, PA-C Emeritus. Ruth passed away early Sunday morning, November 20, 2022.

Ruth had been involved with the Society since its inception in 2002. She served as secretary, president and later would be our historian for many years.

Ruth was a MEDEX graduate (1977) and would later return to the program as an educator (1981) and its program director (1985-2014). As program director, she was actively involved in healthcare issues in the states of Washington, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska.

She was a past president of the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (now PAEA) and the Washington Academy of Physician Assistants; and she was an Advisor to the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. From 2002-2008, she served as a PA director-at-large on the Board of Directors of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Subsequently, she was an inaugural member of the Board of Directors of the NCCPA Foundation (2006-2011), which is now known as the nccPA Health Foundation.

For all her hard work and dedication to the profession, Ruth was recognized in 2012  by the American Academy of Physician Assistants and presented with the Eugene A. Stead, Jr. Award of Achievement. In November 2015, Ms. Ballweg received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from PAEA. [Photo to right: Ruth with MEDEX founder, Dick Smith, 2004. Photo taken by Ken Harbert.]

One of Ruth’s passions was to see the spread and development of the PA concept internationally. To that end, she served as the Director of International Relations for the NCCPA. She facilitated international meetings focusing of certification and regulatory issues. In addition, she worked with governments and universities in Canada, the UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Ghana, Mozambique, Ireland and China to promote the physician assistant concept.

Ruth was a prolific author and presenter. She was the editor and contributor to the first American textbook written on PA training, now in its seventh edition and named after her: Ballweg’s Physician Assistant: A Clinical Guide to Practice. She also was a co-author for the Society’s first publication: Physician Assistants: An Illustrated History and a chapter author for the second publication: Physician Assistants as Social Innovators in Healthcare.

For more on Ruth Ballweg’s amazing contributions to the PA profession, please visit her biography

You may watch Ruth’s oral histories by clicking on the links below:

Ruth Ballweg on the PA History Society

Ruth Ballweg on the Development of the PA Profession in the Netherlands

You may also listen to this audio only oral history by Ruth by clicking here.