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A history of the Alaska physician assistant, 1970–1980

Marzucco, Joseph PA-C, PhD; Hooker, Roderick S. PhD, PA; Ballweg, Ruth M. MPA, PA-C

Journal of the American Academy of PAs: December 2013 - Volume 26 - Issue 12 - p 45–51
doi: 10.1097/
Special Article

ABSTRACT The introduction of physician assistants (PAs) into Alaska began in 1971 with seven MEDEX Northwest students, who were paired with physician preceptors for 12 months. Scores of PAs were recruited as health officers on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System starting in 1974, and by 1977 the state had 200 PAs. In 1979, the Alaska Board of Medical Examiners ratified the first set of regulations and began issuing licenses the following year. Throughout the 1970s and following pipeline completion, more PAs were employed by private, state, and federal agencies to meet the needs of a growing population. Forty years later, Alaska has one of the richest legacies in PA deployment of any state. This article is based on the authors' memories, communications with those involved in the program, and historical documents archived at the MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Program at the University of Washington in Seattle, along with Alaskan archival sources.

Joseph Marzucco practices family medicine at the Family Care and Urgent Medical Clinic in Vancouver, Washington. Roderick S. Hooker is a retired PA. Ruth M. Ballweg is a profession and section chief of the MEDEX Northwest program at the University of Washington in Seattle. The authors have indicated no relationships to disclose relating to the content of this article.

Acknowledgement: The authors would like to acknowledge Sally J. Bremner, research librarian, and Consortium Library Info Quest at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, for locating historical records, and Sally Mantz at the University of Washington, MEDEX Northwest, for researching archived student records and correspondence to anchor the Class IV information for this project.

© 2013 American Academy of Physician Assistants.
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