In 1969, MEDEX Dr. Richard Smith brought together a consortium of physicians who supported the idea of a new category of mid-level medical practitioners, which would become the PA profession. But the early PA profession saw lots of professional and political resistance; many had to be convinced of the efficacy and value of bringing PA into their practices. Here are some films and videos produced by MEDEX Northwest that were meant to do just that, and that today stand as a testament to how far things have come since the 1970’s.

The Origins of MEDEX Northwest

Launched in 1969 at the University of Washington in Seattle, MEDEX is the second oldest PA program in the U.S., and it remains the country’s largest civilian PA program. Born out of a serious doctor shortage, it was the vision of Dr. Richard A. Smith that helped launch the physician [...]

Multiply My Hands: Dr. Richard Smith and the Founding of MEDEX Northwest

In his lifetime, Dr. Richard Smith has made significant contributions to US healthcare. Most notable were his efforts to desegregate thousands of US hospitals during the Lyndon Johnson administration, and the founding of the MEDEX Northwest physician assistant program at the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1969. In [...]

Physician Assistants Today

"Physician Assistants Today" is a 10-minute film that acts as a public information primer on the early PA profession. Produced by MEDEX Northwest in 1978, the film works more like a slideshow with narration and still photographs of early MEDEX students. The MEDEX model is explained, and observant viewers will [...]

MEDEX, the Program and the Person

In 1971 MEDEX Northwest was still in its infancy, but founder Dr. Richard Smith saw the need to communicate his vision for a mid-level healthcare workforce through this film. Recently we uncovered this 16mm reel of a film and had it digitized for wide viewing. Today, the colors have faded, [...]

A Physician’s Assistant; Sounds Like a Good Idea But…

Produced by MEDEX Northwest during the early 70s, this 17-minute film was designed to convince the skeptical medical profession of the value of physician assistants. By the very title, "Physician's Assistant— Sounds Like a Good Idea, But...", you get the idea that early acceptance was an uphill struggle. Produced by [...]

Trailer: A Physician’s Assistant; Sounds Like a Good Idea But…

MEDEX Northwest uncovered some 16mm films dating back to the early 70s. We had them digitized and posted them online as historical artifacts of the early physician assistant profession. These archival short films were designed to sell the notion of physician assistants to the established medical profession. We decided to [...]