Physician Assistants Commissioned

CPO1 Joe Robert, CF Health Services Centre (Pacific) ~

Canadian Forces Health Services began a mass commissioning of Physician Assistants (PAs) as part of a monumental transformation of a non-commissioned member occupation to a commissioned officer trade.

A transformation of this type is the first of its kind in the history of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Four Chief Warrant Officer/Chief Petty Officer First Class (CWO/CPO1s) were commissioned and promoted to the rank of Captain on June 3, 2016, as the first round of this transition. On April 3, 2017, four members on the West Coast were commissioned and promoted at Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Pacific).

Brief History of PAs
The CAF has employed mid-level healthcare providers for over 40 years under a variety of terminologies. Rooted in the naval environment as Sick Berth Attendants before the Second World War, they became known as Medical Assistants after the war, and then QL6B Medical Technicians as they advanced their skills through training on QL6B courses.

In 1984 the first class of Physician Assistants graduated from the Canadian Forces Medical Services School; the first recognized, trained PAs in Canada.

In September 2002 a new PA program was realized to meet the accreditation requirements of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and in 2003 the PA occupation was recognized by the CMA as a health care profession. Since 2008 several civilian programs have emerged at McMaster University, University of Toronto, and the University of Manitoba, amongst others.

On July 28, 2009, the first class of CAF PAs were awarded a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska. Many PAs who had previously completed an accredited program have since attained their Master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska.

Today PAs who have completed an accredited program, either from a university or the Canadian Forces Medical Services School, are certified to work not only in the CAF but in four Canadian provinces in a number of different specialty areas in the public health care system.

To learn more about the PA Occupation you can visit the association web site at

Physician Assistants Commissioned

Clockwise from top left: Capt Philip Fewer is promoted to his current rank by LCol Peckham (left) and CPO1 Robert (right). Lt Irene Doucette is promoted to her current rank by LCol Peckham and CPO1 Robert. Lt Gretel Quinonez is promoted to her current rank by LCol Peckham and CPO1 Robert. Lt Jeffery Westwood is promoted to his current rank by LCol Peckham and CPO1 Robert.

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