Veterans Day: Honoring the PA Profession’s Military Roots

Veterans Day is November 11, and as we reflect on the rich history of PAs, we are proud and honored that the PA profession’s roots began in the U.S. armed forces – and that military representation in our profession has continued for over half a century. 

The PA profession was created to expand, improve, and fill critical gaps in the healthcare system. As the demand for medical professionals grew in the 1940s and 50s, the 1960s brought a shortage of primary care physicians that needed to be addressed.

Eugene A. Stead Jr., MD – who ran Grady Hospital with residents and medical students during the second world war – saw an opportunity to both remedy the primary care shortage and utilize the significant medical training and expertise some corpsmen gained through U.S. military service. Dr. Stead selected four Navy hospital Corpsmen to complete his new two-year curriculum, and a new profession was born.

Since that time, our nation has greatly benefited from the work and service of individuals who served on the frontlines as PAs or expanded their knowledge by becoming PAs after completing their military service. According to the NCCPA (2020), 9.5% of Certified PAs – 11,676 individuals – reported they have served or are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces.

This Veterans Day, we honor their service, leadership, and dedication, and remember that our profession has always been comprised of individuals who desire to serve where they’re needed most. 

To learn more about becoming a member of a U.S. armed forces physician assistant team, click the links below: