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Eugene A Stead

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Name  Eugene Stead

Role  Physician

Died  June 12, 2005, Bullock, North Carolina
Education  Duke University, Emory University

Eugene a stead jr award 2012 ruth ballweg mph pa c

Dr. Eugene Anson Stead Jr. (October 6, 1908 in Atlanta, Georgia – June 12, 2005) is best known as a medical educator, researcher, and the founder of the Physician Assistant or P.A. profession. He served on the faculty at Harvard, Emory (where he received a Bachelor of Science and MD degree), and Duke universities. His research in the 1940s paved the way for cardiac catheterization in medicine today.


National PA day is celebrated in many places on October 6th to commemorate the day the first class of PAs graduated from Duke University in 1967 (it also happens to be Dr. Stead's birthday).

2009 eugene a stead award recepient video

Postgraduate work

In 1967, he graduated the first class of Physician Assistant students from Duke University's PA program. He interned at the Internal Medicine and Surgery at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and also at Cincinnati General Hospital and Boston City Hospital. His educational philosophy placed emphasis on knowing how to look up information for "just in time" delivery rather than memorizing volumes of information only to forget it before needed. The niche that he envisioned for PAs was that most health care encounters do not require extensive training and that superior medical care can be delivered by relieving the burden of mundane medical encounters by training PA professionals to know when to seek additional input. He wanted all PAs to be required to have mentoring relationships with Physicians to ensure access to a larger body of medical knowledge.


Dr. Stead had high hopes for distance education in medical education. He believed and talked regularly about the "politics of medical education" and believed that distance education could replace the first two years of medical school. After studying at home and passing national boards, he believed that medicine could be taught in the clinics and offices of private practices. While he worked and helped build the medical education institutions, he had some disdain for the way they practiced and acted as gatekeepers to the medical profession.

Medical Positions

  • Chair Dept. of Medicine, Emory University (1942-46)
  • Dean of the School of Medicine, Emory University (1945-46)
  • Chair Dept. Of Medicine, Duke University (1947-1967)
  • References

    Eugene A. Stead Wikipedia

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