The following timeline presents important milestones and events in the evolutionary development of the physician assistant profession.    

The Society’s Museum Collection features artwork, artifacts and exhibitions that interpret the story of physician assistant profession.

Interviews provide invaluable overviews and details of a subject, offer fresh insights, and suggest directions for further research.

The Still Image Collection contains images created by the Society and by organizations, institutions and individuals who have gifted their collections to the Society.

The Moving Image Collection includes film and video created by various organizations, institutions and individuals and then gifted to the Society over time.

Biographies highlight the men and women who over time have contributed to the establishment, growth and development of the physician assistant profession.

The Society for the Preservation of Physician Assistant History, Inc. (PA History Society) is dedicated to the history and legacy of the physician assistant profession through the identification and collection of appropriate papers, manuscripts, magazine and newspaper clippings, newsletters, reports, dissertations, oral histories, and visual artifacts, such as films, slides, videos, photographs, and digital images.  To learn more about the Society's extensive Archive, Library and Museum (ALM) Collection, please click here.


Read the latest issue of our newsletter, Historical Happenings.


Order your copy of the History Society's new book, The Physician Assistant: An Illustrated History.


During the month of February, the PA History Society will feature several outstanding African American PAs who have contributed to the growth and success of the PA profession.  Although we cannot salute all of the amazing African American PAs in one month, the Society would like to spotlight a few of the notable individuals each week.   Earl Echard, a 1973 graduate of the Duke University PA Program, worked closely with John Davis, Joyce Nichols and Steve Turnipseed to establish and perpetuate the American Academy of Physician Assistant Minority Affairs Committee. As a student, he coordinated efforts with Davis and Nichols to introduce the PA concept to African American physicians throughout North and South Carolina. Read more about Mr. Echard here.

Joyce Nichols was the first woman to be formally educated as a physician assistant (PA). She also happened to be the first African-American woman to practice as a PA. Nichols was working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Duke University when Dr. Eugene A. Stead, Jr. established his 2-yr PA educational program in 1965.  Read more about Ms. Nichols here.



Profiles in Black Exhibit by Les Howard, PA

This booklet was produced by the African Heritage Caucus and distributed to members during the 25th Annual AAPA Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1997.  It contains brief biographies of PAs who are of African American heritage and who have become or who are in the process of becoming leaders in the PA profession.  The booklet was made possible by the Howard PA Program and especially by Brenda Jasper who kept a history of the contributions of those highlighted in the booklet.  As stated in the forward by Les Howard, “Having our history archived ensures that, we of African Heritage, maintain a presence, honor our elders, and pass the word to the next generation.”  The booklet presents individuals from three different generations of PAs and those who played an important role in establishing the African Heritage Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.


PAHx Historian Toolkit     

The Historian Toolkit is designed to help our Associates identify, gather, organize and maintain materials that document the history of their PA program.  The toolkit has the following seven leaflets that provide basic information on specific topics that help Associates preserve their institutions history and legacy.   1. Historian Duties    2. What is an Archive?   3. Growing Collection   4. Records Management & Retention Guidelines    5. Conducting Oral History Interviews   6. Digital Imaging       7. Helpful Links


PAHx Educational Toolkit  
The Educational Toolkit on the History and Legacy of the Physician Assistant Profession is available to PAHx Associates. The toolkit is a compendium of PowerPoint™ slides, photographs, and video clips that can be integrated into personalized lectures; a series of self-directed learning modules; a Syllabus of major themes that can be explored using the PAHx website; a textbook primer - The Physician Assistant: An Illustrated History; and the DVD - The Way We Were: A Conversation with the PA Profession’s Early Leaders. The Educational Tool Kit is a continuum of the PAHx Society’s efforts to make the history of the PA profession come alive, meaningful and inspirational for future generations of physician assistants. 


PA Programs and Constituent organizations interested in becoming annual PAHx Associates, please click here.


“I gave a small presentation, excerpting some of the highlights of the modules and the profession. The modules put PA history into perspective as to the climate of society and health care in the post-war era. The context made for a broader understanding of why the PA profession was created and how it fit into medical practice and how it added to the health care system. Students were generally impressed with the depth of the information and appreciated knowing about the opportunities and roadblocks that went into the eventual development of the modern PA profession.  Thanks for the hard work on an important endeavor.” 

Thomas P. Colletti, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C, Chair & Director, Campbell University PA Program


"Many thanks for developing the Educational Toolkit. I incorporated it into my history of the profession lecture and it was extremely useful. The information is thorough and well organized with exceptional pictures and videos. I intend to continue to use this valuable resource and to find other areas where it can be utilized. Thank you, again!"   

Miranda M Collins MEd, MPAS, PA-C,  Program Director,  Marietta College PA Program



PAHx Website Guide

The PA History Society’s Illustrated PA History website and PastPerfect™ online database contains a wealth of information about the development and expansion of the PA profession overtime.  It is a valuable compendium for the teaching of professional history and issues to PA students and a primary source of information for researchers.  It is our desire that this guide will help you better navigate and find pertinent information on our website.  We want the Society’s collection to be used for literary, academic and research purposes according to the highest standards of accountability.  Please refer to the Societies Terms of Use policy for guidance. 


The Society’s collection continues to grow and new items are added regularly to the Illustrated PA History website and the PastPerfect™ database.  So visit the site frequently and read the Society’s quarterly newsletter, Historical Happenings, for updates.  Click here to access the helpful tips for navigating the website.


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