PA Ideological Era (1961-1965)

The physician assistant (PA) profession emerged in the mid-1960s as a social innovation to help physicians meet a growing demand for health care services. After the Second World War, the United States began educating more medical and surgical specialist than generalist physicians. Access to primary health services became limited at a time of growing social unrest that proclaimed health care as a right of all citizens. Some physicians began training their own “assistants” to help with the work load. States passed laws to allow them to delegate medical task to these proprietary trained assistants. Dr. Charles Hudson challenged the American Medical Association (AMA) to create and support the training of a new health professional that could be educated in less time, at less expense and be deployed rapidly to assist overworked physicians, especially in primary care practices. The idea of using non-physicians to provide medical services was not new; examples included the use of corpsman and medics in the military and the use of Feldshers in Russia and Barefoot Doctors in China.

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