Physician Assistant Program History

In 1971, the legislative act to provide legal authority for PA’s to practice medicine with physician supervision and establish a PA Program was passed by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa. That same year, an ad hoc committee, appointed by the Dean of the COM, was formed to ascertain whether the College should establish a PA Program at The University of Iowa. The Committee recommended a program be developed, specifying that it would be within the COM, emphasize primary care medicine and award a baccalaureate degree (BS in Medicine) from the COM.

In the fall of 1972, an ad hoc committee, including faculty from the basic and clinical science departments, was appointed by the Dean to develop program guidelines, objectives and a curriculum. The objectives and curriculum were modeled after the PA Program’s at Duke and Oklahoma Universities, while following guidelines established by the AMA’s Council on Medical Education as presented in the first edition of the "Essentials of Approved Programs for the Assistant to the Primary Care Physician".

In June 1972, the State Board of Regents approved the formation of a PA Program in the COM and the College was awarded a 5-year contract from the Federal Bureau of Health Manpower (BHME). Ten students were enrolled to begin the Program in August, 1972. The Program received its initial Accreditation in March 1975 by CAHEA and has remained fully accredited since that time. The most recent accreditation visit occurred in the fall of 2012 and in March of 2013 the program was granted re-accreditation for ten years.

In 1987 the Graduate College approved the development of two combined graduate-level curricula in which selected students (n=1-3/year) completed one year of graduate work (30-36 semester hours) in either the Department of Preventive Medicine or Exercise Science, followed by the two-year PA curriculum for a total of a three-year combined program. Graduates from the combined program earned an MS degree from the Graduate College in Preventive Medicine or Exercise Science and the BS degree and certificate from the COM on completion of the PA curriculum.

Beginning in 1991, the PA Program developed a proposal and in June, 1992, the Iowa State Board of Regents approved, the conversion of the baccalaureate program to a graduate-level program. The Graduate College awarded the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPA) and the College of Medicine awards the Certificate of Completion. The conversion to a graduate program resulted in significant changes in the Program’s prerequisite requirements and prompted the development of several new research-oriented courses. Both the baccalaureate degree and the combined graduate programs were phased out in 1994 when the MPA curriculum was fully implemented. In 2007, the awarding of the MPAS was transferred to the Carver College of Medicine, which continues to award the Certificate of Completion.

In April of 2012, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved to create and name a new Department of Physician Assistant Studies & Services in the Carver College of Medicine.

The Physician Assistant Program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA).