Physician assistants (PAs) are healthcare professionals who are educated according to the medical model and licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. The profession developed in response to a growing population and an increased demand for medical care. The first PAs were graduates of Duke University's pioneering program. By design, these first graduates were male, with a single exception, and many were former military medics with experience in the Vietnam War. Conflicts between the American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association (ANA) helped to limit the number of women becoming PAs in the early years, but by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, women made up nearly 60 percent of practicing PAs.

As early as 1961, Dr. Charles ...

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