Physician Assistants Week is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Physician Assistants, Oct. 6-12.According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the PA profession started in the mid-1960s when Duke University Medical Center’s Eugene A. Stead Jr., MD initiated medical training based on fast-track training provided to doctors during World War II to four Navy Corpsmen. The AAPA said the concept was lauded and received federal backing in the mid-70s.The U.S. military has a long tradition valuing the contribution of physician assistants. The Army began using PAs in 1971 to supplement the physicians and surgeons in the medical corps. As their numbers grew, PAs gradually replaced general medical officers assigned to battalions.Today, the Interservice Physician Assistant Program offers between 150-200 Soldiers a year an opportunity to become Physician Assistants. Cadets that graduate from the program earn both a Bachelor’s and Master's degrees from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and receive a commission as a 1st lieutenant.The students currently training on at Winn Army Community Hospital include: Officer Candidate (SFC) Huon Sharpe, OC (SGT) Seth Ravid, Capt. Daniel Baker, OC (MSG) Matthew Leuders, OC (SGT) Nicholas Mastromarino, OC (SFC) Alexander Ratliff, CPT Brice Scott, CPT Tyler Martin, CPT Eric Dolan, OC (SFC) Adam Church, CPT Danielle Minichello, 1LT Lt Robin Carr, and 1LT Joshua Formaneck.The IPAP mission statement is to provide the uniformed services with highly competent, compassionate physician assistants who model integrity, strive for leadership excellence, and are committed to lifelong learning."The education and training our student Soldiers receive is invaluable. Once they graduate, they will be charged with the health and well-being of our U.S. Service Members as primary care providers or "doc" of a unit/battalion," said MAJ Dichiera, IPAP Phase II Clinical Coordinator.Winn Army Community Hospital's Deputy Commander for Medical Services, COL John Balser, said “the students have a variety of backgrounds, and each provide a unique perspective once they get to their first assignment."“My goal has always been to become a medical provider; IPAP allowed me to realize this dream while also furthering my military career and providing opportunities that would not be possible in any other program.” OC (SGT) Nicholas Mastromarino, IPAP Class 18-3.“Being an IPAP student can [be] pretty hard, but when I look ahead to my future as an Army PA, it always feels worth it. I find it very rewarding to educate fellow Soldiers about their health and empower them to become partners in their treatment plans.” OC (SGT) Seth Ravid, class 18-2.