Fast Facts About the University of California, Davis PA Program

In 2021, 11 students from the UC Davis PA program were awarded the National Health Service Corps Scholarship.

Fast Facts About the University of California, Davis PA Program

Courtesy of Michelle Touw, MMS, PA-C & Assistant Professor

Program Name & Location: University of California, Davis Physician Assistant Program

Program mission, vision & values:
Integrating the science and humanity of health care, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, in which the PA Program is housed, leads innovative research, education, and practice and prepares leaders who advance health, transform health care, and ignite bold system change locally, nationally, and globally.

In alignment with the school’s vision to advance health, the mission of the physician assistant program is to educate health care professionals to deliver care as leaders and members of interprofessional health care teams as well as to improve the availability of culturally relevant primary health care to underserved populations throughout California.

What are the key milestones in your program’s history?
The UC Davis PA program is the longest-running combined PA and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program in the nation.

  • In 2009, the program moved from the UC Davis School of Medicine to the newly formed UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
  • In 2013, the program began awarding a master’s degree to all PA and FNP graduates.
  • Starting with the 2022 cohort, the FNP program will move to a DNP model and separate from the PA program, ending the last combined PA/FNP training program in the US.

How many students have graduated from your program to date?
There are more than 2300 graduates of the combined PA and FNP program at UC Davis.

How has your program grown from the first class to today?
The UC Davis PA Program first opened as a FNP program at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in 1970. It moved to UC Davis in 1972 to take advantage of the clinical training capabilities at the growing Sacramento Medical Center. From 1972 to 1982, UC Davis offered a PA program through a collaborative agreement with Stanford University.

After the partnership with Stanford University ended in 2008, the UC Davis program remained as the nation’s only combined PA and FNP program and it remains the only PA program offered in the University of California system. The program transitioned again in 2009 when the PA program became part of the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the UC Davis Health Campus. The program accepts 65 students each year.

Have any prominent PAs graduated from your program? If so, who and what did they accomplish?
Julie Theriault is a 1987 graduate of the UC Davis PA program. She is a past president of both the CAPA and AAPA and a Distinguished Fellow of the AAPA. Julie has an extremally long list of accomplishments, but her work with the California Medical Association successfully paved the way to expanding the scope of practice for PAs in California.

How do you envision the next 50 years of your program?
As this will be our first year uncoupled from the NP program, we envision new growth for our students and faculty. We will continue working closely with our School of Nursing, School of Medicine, and School of Pharmacy colleagues to provide interprofessional learning experiences. We will enhance and promote opportunities for students and faculty to take on active roles in advocating for the PA profession by participating in state and national professional organizations. Throughout this transition, we will continue to embrace our mission: The UC Davis PA Program is committed to attracting and training diverse students and promoting working in primary care practice in underserved areas.