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2021 to Present

Adaptation, Flexibility and Transformation within the Profession

Adapting, Flexibility and Transformation within the Profession: Since the turn of the 21st century, the PA profession has scaled up and diffused throughout almost every sector of the American Health Care System.

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Legal and third-party reimbursement issues have been addressed positively. Advances in scope of practice and licensure, the growth of PA organizations, and demographic changes within the profession have resulted in social and economic benefits that have been shown to improve team-base, patient-centered care. The 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic underscored previously known inequities that exist in healthcare. The socio-political determination necessary to address racism and healthcare inequities will provide opportunities for PAs in public and mental healthcare. During this decade, the PA profession will continue to undergo systemic changes and transformations that will solidified the profession’s ability to bring meaningful and needed innovation in the future. The profession is in the midst of revitalization of purpose, an exciting and challenging time.

San Juan Bautista School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, the first PA program in Puerto Rico and first PA program in an US protectorate, matriculates its first class in January.

On March 11, an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act increases vaccination authority to PAs, PA students and retired PAs further showcasing that PAs are vital in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May, Richard Muma, PhD, MPH, PA-C, becomes the first PA to be the president of a university (Wichita State University).

On May 24, the AAPA House of Delegates passes a resolution to change the name of the PA profession to “Physician Associate”.

On September 15, Hayley Arceneaux becomes the first PA to enter space. Arceneaux is also the first cancer survivor, the first person with an artificial body part, and the youngest American to go into space. She is the medical officer for the mission.


The PA History Society celebrates their 20th Anniversary on January 17, 2022! Special receptions are held at both the AAPA Conference and the PAEA Education Forum.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) changes Medicare Part B repayment policies so that PAs may be reimbursed directly. Prior, direct payment was paid to the PA’s employer, even though physicians, NPs, and others could be directly paid. PAs who receive direct Medicare Part B payments can now become self-employed independent contractors, form medical practices with other PAs, reassign Medicare payment rights to employers, facilities, etc. and receive reimbursement while working in a Rural Health Clinic or Federally Qualified Health Center.

The PA History Society releases their second publication, Physician Assistants as Social Innovators in Healthcare. The book explores the transformations that have taken place over the past 55 years to ensure that the PA innovation continues to meet societal needs for effective, efficient, and affordable health care services.

The AAPA Conference is held in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. For the past two years the conference has been held virtually.

The North Carolina Durham Housing Authority partners with development company Laurel Street Residential to build an affordable senior housing community named The Joyce after Joyce Nichols, the first female PA.

The Inaugural Partners in Healthcare for Puerto Rico Health Summit is held in August. The event is sponsored by the La Academia de Asociados Médicos de Puerto Rico (AAMPR) and Physician Associates for Latino Health (PALH). It is the first time that PAs in Puerto Rico can meet to discuss issues impacting healthcare in the nation and how best to solve them in cooperation with other healthcare providers.


PA Licensure Compact legislation become available for states to adopt. The PA Compact is a joint project of the NCCPA, AAPA, Federation of State Medical Boards, and Council of State Governments. The Compact would allow a PA with practice privileges in one Compact state to have practice privileges in another Compact state.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 is signed by President Joe Biden which includes the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act. This Act abolishes the “X-waiver”, allowing PAs to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid abuse disorder patients without the 24-hour training requirement. All clinicians (physicians, PAs, and NPs) now have the same requirements.

In September, the NCCPA certifies their 200,000th PA: Jamie Alexander, MPA, PA-C.


In March , Oregon becomes the first state to officially change the PA title from “physician assistant” to “physician associate”.