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History of the PA Program and Emory Medical School

The Emory University Physician Assistant Program evolved from the pioneering Cardiology Medical Specialty Associate program at Grady Memorial Hospital in 1967 under the direction of Dr. J. Willis Hurst, a close friend of Dr. Eugene Stead, founder of the PA profession. Early in 1971 with the financial assistance of the Bruner Foundation, the Division of Allied Health Professions of the Emory University School of Medicine initiated the Emory Physician Associate Program.  Beginning in 1973, graduates received a Bachelor of Medical Science.  In 1981 the Division of Allied Health was dissolved and the program was moved to the Department of Community Health in the Division of Primary Care.  With the advent of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in 1995, the program became the Physician Assistant Division within the newly formed department.  In 1990, the degree was elevated to Master of Medical Science, Physician Assistant (MMSc-PA).  In collaboration with the Rollins School of Public Health a dual MMSc-PA/MPH degree was first awarded in 2009.

Emory Medical School History

Atlanta's first medical college was established in the decade after the city was named and the decade before the Civil War. The college was a precursor to the Emory University School of Medicine-one of the foremost private facilities for medical education in the Southeast.

In 1854 the Georgia General Assembly granted a charter for Atlanta Medical College-forerunner to Emory University. Students attended the first session the following year, and in 1859, with a $15,000 appropriation from the state legislature, the first building was erected at Butler and Armstrong streets near the site now occupied by Grady Memorial Hospital. A series of mergers followed. In 1898, Atlanta Medical College joined with the Southern Medical College (founded in 1878) to form the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons. Fifteen years later, this college merged with Atlanta School of Medicine (founded in 1905) under the historic name Atlanta Medical College. Then in 1915, the amalgamated school became Emory University School of Medicine. At a meeting of university alumni in 1919, it was decided that graduates of the antecedent institutions would become alumni of Emory University School of Medicine.

Incorporating the old medical college into Emory University led to noteworthy developments in both construction of facilities and strengthening of educational programs. Campus facilities for teaching and research in basic sciences were completed in 1917 with construction of the John P. Scott Anatomy Building and the T.T. Fishburne Physiology Building. With their opening, the first two years of medical instruction were moved from downtown Atlanta to Emory. That same year, the university constructed the J.J. Gray Clinic Building on Armstrong Street for outpatient care of the indigent sick and for most of the clinical instruction of third-year students. Fourth-year work was carried out in the old college building at Butler and Armstrong streets and in nearby Grady Memorial Hospital, established in 1892.

Also in 1917, the School of Medicine was accepted into membership in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and was approved by the Council on Education of the American Medical Association (AMA), now the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals. Today, the AMA's Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the AAMC accredits the School of Medicine. Emory University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The School of Medicine is part of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, which encompasses the components of Emory University concerned with patient care, education of health professionals, research affecting health and illness, and policies for prevention and treatment of diseases. The Center's namesake, the legendary leader of The Coca-Cola Company, was a man whose vision and generosity left a lasting imprint on Emory and the city of Atlanta. His first gift to Emory benefited the School of Medicine in 1937, when he donated $50,000 for the Robert Winship Clinic for Neoplastic Diseases, now known as the Winship Cancer Institute.

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