Crafting a Profession: Moving From Innovative Model Programs to a Successful National Profession

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Abstract

The authors review the historical underpinnings of the physician assistant (PA) profession and the tumultuous social context at the time the PA profession was born. They explore the creation of “model” PA programs and the subsequent crafting of the PA profession through 2 distinct “quality control” procedures: the credentialing of PA programs (accreditation) and the credentialing of PA graduates (certification). These pillars of PA education and PA practice brought credibility to a fledgling profession in its early years and stand today as examples of the creative thinking and courage of the architects of a profession that, for the first time in American medical history, allowed someone, other than physicians, to practice medicine.

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