Post written by Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Family Physician and Chief Health Officer
“Always learning… our scope of practice is a delegatory one where you can find your niche… building that team… never stagnant,” said Joe Clark PA-C, Health Partnership Clinic Physician Assistant, when asked about his favorite part of being a Physician Assistant.
A Physician Assistant, or PA for short, is a health care provider who practices medicine in collaboration with a supervising physician. That supervision can be remote, such that the collaborating physician does not have to be onsite.
Assistants to Doctors
In 1961, a recommendation was made to the American Medical Association (AMA) for the creation of assistants to doctors. Dr. Eugene A. Stead of Duke University Medical Center brought together the first class of physician assistants in 1965, composed of four former US navy Hospital Corpsmen. He is known as founder of the PA program; and graduated his first class in 1967. He based the curriculum of the PA program on his first-hand knowledge of the fast-track training of medical doctors during World War II.
October 6th – Physician Assistant Day
National PA day is celebrated on October 6th, Dr. Stead’s birthday. Dr. J. Willis Hurst started the Emory University Physician Assistant Program in 1967, where Dr. Stead had also served as a faculty member. The profession has since expanded globally, and can now be found in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ghana, India, Israel, Liberia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Physician Assistants are trained under the medical model, like physicians, to deliver high-quality medical care. They can specialize in many different areas of medicine, including acute medicine, primary care, emergency medicine, surgical specialties, psychiatry, and a host of other specialties. By 2003, nearly 60% of physician assistants in the United States were women.
Since 2016, Joe has been taking care of patients at Health Partnership Clinic with a range of acute and chronic medical conditions while doing office procedures to help them get better. He started off in family medicine, then went into trauma surgery, then to critical care medicine, and then back to family medicine. Starting this October, his career path will take him to a cardiothoracic surgery practice, where he will bring his wealth of experience and knowledge to benefit his new specialty care team to provide excellent quality care.
We thank Joe and all physician assistants who have answered the call to help others through healing.