KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
National Physician Assistant Week is held annually October 6-12 to recognize the physician assistant profession and their contributions to the country’s health care system.
The physician assistant profession bears its origins in the military, as its cohort of four physician assistants in 1965 were Navy hospital corpsmen who had received initial medical training during their military service. The profession’s founder, Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., based the first curriculum of the physician assistance program on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II. The first graduating class was on Oct. 6, 1967 at Duke University.
Forty-one years later, there are more than 123,000 physician assistants and the profession is growing. According to U.S. News and World Report, the physician assistant career field has also been rated one of the top two health care jobs of 2018. In the Air Force, physician assistants work in various clinics including family health, orthopedics, emergency room, surgery and ears, nose and throat. They provide medical care to Airmen both in garrison and deployed, family members and retirees.
Physician Assistant Week is important to me as I am reminded of the role I play in making sure the Air Force mission goes on by ensuring the Airmen are healthy and if/when deployed giving them a peace of mind by taking care of the health care needs of their families.
In Mississippi, I embrace the critical health needs specific to this state. As the leading state in obesity, diabetes and hypertension, my role in preventive medicine is crucial. My favorite duty of all is to mentor and train physician assistant students as they are future Air Force and Coast Guard leaders.