Title

The PA profession in the 1990s

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

6-1-2022

Journal

JAAPA : official journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants

Volume

35

Issue

6

DOI

10.1097/01.JAA.0000823176.02964.c4

Abstract

History is rarely linear, and nowhere is this more evident than the US physician assistant/associate (PA) movement (1965-2021). The 1990s stand out as pivotal years for the PA profession, marked by advances that shaped the profession, experiments in primary care delivery, sex equity, the Balanced Budget Act, and national policy errors in predicting a physician surplus. Rapid growth followed program expansion, doubling from 57 in 1993 to 120 by 1999. By the end of the decade, all states had advanced PA-enabling legislation with broad-based prescribing. During this era, PA-focused research moved from descriptive to predictive, an official journal emerged in 1988, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant became independent, and the American Academy of Physician Associates helped shape federal health policy. Also during this period, the profile of PAs shifted from older males to younger females with important sociological implications in leadership and career development. Notable milestones included national recognition of PAs as Medicare-eligible providers, direct commissioning in the military, and employment surges in the Veterans Health Administration and US Public Health Service. Not least of all this was a time of role shifts toward specialized medicine and surgery.

Department

Prevention and Community Health

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