Physician Assistant Program

What is a PA?

Physician Assistants (PA) are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with supervision from a doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO). As a team with the supervising physician, the PA provides diagnostic and therapeutic patient care, takes patient histories, performs physical examinations, orders diagnostic studies and develops and carries out treatment plans. PAs also work in research, administrative and academic positions.

PAs work in private physician offices, clinics, hospitals, health maintenance organizations, neighborhood health centers, federal and state facilities, the Armed Services, industries, universities, medical schools and many other settings.


The first PA training program began in 1965 at Duke University to assist in alleviating the shortage and maldistribution of physicians. Four ex-Navy corpsmen were in the first class of the Duke University PA program. Today, there are 141 accredited PA programs in the United States that are operating as part of medical schools, universities and colleges. PA programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA).

PAs are trained in primary care, but have the opportunity to work in other specialties of medicine. In order to practice as a PA, the student must graduate from an accredited physician assistant program in order to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The graduate must pass the PANCE in order to obtain state licensure. PAs must participate in continuing medical education to maintain their certification.

Adopted by the AAPA (2000)


  • hold as their primary responsibility the health, safety, welfare and dignity of all human beings

  • uphold the tenets of patient autonomy, beneficence and justice

  • recognize and promote the value of diversity

  • hold in confidence the information shared in the course of medical practice

  • assess their personal capabilities and limitations, striving always to improve their medical practice

  • actively seek to expand their knowledge and skills, keeping current with medical advances

  • work with other members of the health-care team to provide compassionate and effective patient care

  • use knowledge and experience to contribute to an improved community

  • respect their professional relationship with physicians

  • share and expand knowledge within the profession.


More information on the PA profession can be found at the following websites:

American Academy of Physician Assistants:
Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants:
Physician Assistant Education Association:
National Commission on Certification for Physician Assistants:
Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants:
Physician Assistant History:
Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

LMU-DCOM PA Admissions Office
800-325-0900, ext. 6669 (toll-free)
423-869-6669 (direct)