The Physician Associate (or Assistant, PA) profession began in 1967 at Duke University in North Carolina. The PA Program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center began in 1970. A separate PA program housed at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine in Tulsa matriculated its inaugural class in 2008. Each program is thirty months in duration with a Master of Health Science degree awarded upon graduation. Both programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.
All graduates from accredited PA programs are required to pass a national certifying examination developed and administered by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants. In addition, PAs must be licensed to practice by the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure & Supervision and must complete twenty hours of Category 1 continuing medical education each year.
PAs are licensed to perform a wide range of patient-care tasks under the supervision of a licensed physician. Numerous employment opportunities are available in the following settings:
- Private physician offices and clinics
- Public and private hospitals
- University and industrial settings
- Veterans Affairs facilities
- All branches of the armed forces
- Federal and state institutions