History of the Physician Assistant Program
The University of Utah Physician Assistant Program is proud of what we have accomplished. UPAP started as a unique “social experiment” that has proved to be a resounding success over the past 45 years. We welcome you to browse through some of the important events that are part of our history and the history of the physician assistant profession.
Interview with Don Pedersen, PA-C, PhD, about his work in the physician assistant field.
Pederson is also featured in the PA National History Archives.
William M. Wilson, PhD, Co-Founder of UPAP, Memorial Service – January 15, 2010
Bill was a pioneer. He, along with other like-minded individuals in the late 1960s and early 1970s charted the course of a grand social experiment—the physician assistant profession. Bill was co-founder and the founding Director of the University of Utah MEDEX Physician Assistant Program.
Origins of the physician assistant movement in the United States, with Don Pedersen as contributing author:
The physician assistant (PA) movement in the United States arose from the convergence of events that encompassed the decline of the general practitioner, the rise of physician specialization, and a perceived scarcity of doctors. The 1960s era of social change, returning Viet Nam War medical corpsmen, and federal activism in health workforce policy set the stage for exploration of new concepts in health personnel. With significant support from the federal government, the PA was established by medicine, and their roles assumed many of the responsibilities previously reserved within the domain of the physician.
“Confusion’s Masterpiece”: The Development of the Physician Assistant Profession by Natalie Holt for the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.
In 2023, UPAP was recognized as a supporter
of the Physician Assistant History Society.