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What Is a Physician Assistant?

A Physician Assistant provides high quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care services. They will listen to you and help you make important health care decisions and lifestyle changes. A Physician Assistant may diagnose and treat your medical condition but they also focus on disease prevention and health education. Our Physician Assistant at the Missoula, Montana Women's Care and Family Wellness clinic looks at the whole person, not just a body part or disease process.

In the mid-1960s, physicians and educators recognized there was a shortage of primary care physicians. To remedy this, Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center put together the first class of physician assistants in 1965. He selected Navy corpsmen with considerable medical training during their military service. Dr. Stead based the curriculum of the PA program on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II.

On October 6, 1967, Duke University PA program graduated the first PA students who went on to start practicing as PAs. Today there are more than 81,000 practicing PAs.

A Physician Assistant can practice under the rules and regulations of the state in which they are licensed. In Montana, Physician Assistants can prescribe medications, order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests such as labwork and X-rays. A Physician Assistant will help you coordinate the care that you receive from many specialties.

Physician Assistants at the Missoula, Montana Women's Care and Family Wellness clinic consult with many of the physicians and providers within Providence Medical Group. In addition, they will consult with complementary and holistic health care providers in your community.