Physician assistant (PA) educational programs were created in the 1960s to prepare a new type of health care practitioner. Physician assistant programs began as experiments in medical education, and later, they proved to be highly successful in preparing capable, flexible, and productive clinicians. The growth of PA educational programs in US medical education-stimulated by grants, public policy, and anticipated shortages of providers-has gone through 3 distinct phases. At present, such programs are in the midst of the third growth spurt that is expected to continue beyond 2020, as a large number of colleges and universities seek to sponsor PA programs and attain accreditation status. Characteristics of these new programs are described, and the implications of the current expansion of PA education are examined.
ASJC Scopus subject areas