Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch to declare Friday, October 12 University of Bridgeport Physician Assistant Institute Day

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch will declare Friday, October 12 “University of Bridgeport Physician Assistant Day” to join the celebration of National Physician Assistant Week, which is held every year from October 6 to 12.

The weeklong recognition of physician assistants was created by the American Academy of Physician Assistants to commemorate the anniversary of the very first graduating PA class at Duke University on October 6, 1967.

The profession was created in the early 1960s by Duke University Medical Center’s Dr. Eugene Stead, who believed that medics returning from the Vietnam War should continue working in health care. At the time only one in three did so.

Today, an estimated 75,000 physician assistants provide care in the U.S., working in hospitals, clinics, and other health care centers. They are responsible for a full spectrum of duties, from conducting medical exams to developing patient treatment plans. They may work in specialized fields or in general practices.

Such skills are becoming increasingly important; there will be a shortage of 40,000 primary care physicians in the U.S. by the end of the decade, and PAs are expected to fill the gap.

“Physician Assistants are responsible for improving the quality of life for patients of all ages across the United States. We’re pleased Mayor Finch is recognizing the profession, and more specifically, the contributions of the Physician Assistant Institute (PAI) to Greater Bridgeport,” said PAI Director Dr. Dan Cervonka.

As part of its contribution to National Physician Assistant Week, the PAI will provide free blood-pressure screenings and patient education to city employees at City Hall Annex on Friday.

The University of Bridgeport opened the Physician Assistant Institute in January 2011, and members of its first class currently do clinical rotations at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Bridgeport Hospital, and Optimus Health Care in Bridgeport, among other facilities throughout Connecticut.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,