October 6 – Physician Assistant Day

Posted on October 3, 2014

The first Physician Assistant (PA) graduated from Duke University of this date in 1967. To commemorate this important anniversary, Physician Assistants all over the U.S. celebrate and urge all the rest of us to learn more about their profession.

So... physician is another word for “doctor,” so a Physician Assistant is a doctor's helper. In other words, a nurse. Right?


A PA is a healthcare professional who is licensed to practice medicine as part of a team that includes physicians (doctors).

PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses, order tests, perform procedures, and prescribe medicines....just like doctors! What's the difference?
A character on the show "Royal Pains," Divya,
is a Physician Assistant.

The difference is partly in the training. To be a doctor, you must have a Bachelor's Degree (which generally takes 4 to 5 years), plus 4 years of medical school, plus 3 or more years of residency after graduation from med school. That's a total of at least 11 years after high school before you can be a full-fledged doctor!

To be a PA, you generally have to have a Bachelor's Degree, again, but only 2 to 3 years of study and a 1-year clinical rotation. That's just 7 years out of high school.

The other difference, of course, is in the responsibility. PAs operate under a doctor's supervision and share the responsibility for the patients' health with that doctor. A doctor can go it alone, without a PA, but a PA cannot go it alone, without a doctor.

Also on this date:

Mad Hatter Day 

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