A physician assistant (PA) is a highly trained health care professional who cares for patients under the supervision of a physician. PAs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, correctional institutions, military installations, health care educational and administrative offices, industrial medicine clinics, and surgical suites. PAs document their care through the medical record, provide patient counseling and education, and may be involved in administrative or managerial roles. As an integral part of the health care team, the PA provides patients with comprehensive and personalized health care.
The duties of physician assistants are determined by the supervising physician and by State law. In New York State, registered physician assistants are qualified to take medical histories, conduct physical examinations, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose illnesses, develop treatment plans for their patients, prescribe medications, and perform invasive medical interventions such as surgical assisting, setting fractures, and suturing lacerations. It is estimated that physician assistants are qualified to perform 80% of the procedures performed by physicians. The supervising physician may delegate to the PA any medical procedures and tasks that are routinely performed within the normal scope of the physician’s practice.
The U.S. Department of Labor describes the nature of the physician assistant’s work in general.
History of the Profession
Dr. Eugene Stead and his colleagues used ex-military corpsmen in the early 1960s to help run specialty units at Duke. Because the nation was facing a severe shortage of primary health care providers, Dr. Stead developed a two-year curriculum to expand the prior education and experience of these corpsmen to become competent physician assistants. With the support of the Duke faculty and administration, he launched the first formal educational program for physician assistants at Duke University in 1965. For the next seven years, Duke University and later the University of Washington (Dr. Richard Smith's MEDEX program) became focal points for the development of the physician assistant profession.
Excerpted from “Biographies: Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD,” Physician Assistant History Center
History of the Program
The Physician Assistant Program of Le Moyne College was founded in 1996 in response to the health care needs of Central New York, including Syracuse and Onondaga County. It was established within the Department of Biology with Norb Henry, EdD, as the founding Director, and James Longo, MD, as the founding Medical Director. The program was initially granted provisional accreditation, and full accreditation in 1998. Continuing accreditation was granted for 2002-2006, 2006-2011, and for 2011-2018. The next ARC-PA review will occur in September 2018.
The PA program became the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in 2005. It received approval to grant a Master of Science degree to graduates, with the first full graduate class entering in fall 2005.
The first class entered in fall 1996 with 32 students. Since 1998, over 400 students have completed the Le Moyne College Physician Assistant Program and are employed throughout Central New York and across the United States.
Read the Fall 2010 Newsletter