Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join
About Us
Share |
History of the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants  

Compiled by Randy Danielsen & Past ASAPA Leaders    

This site is dedicated to the history and legacy of the physician assistant profession in Arizona initially through a timeline since 1972 and in the future through the identification and collection of appropriate papers, manuscripts, magazine and newspaper clippings, newsletters, reports, dissertations, oral histories, and visual artifacts, such as films, slides, videos, photographs, and digital images.  

For a comprehensive history of the Physician Assistant profession in the United States please check out the Physician Assistant History Society at  

The following timeline presents important milestones and events in the evolutionary development of the physician assistant profession in Arizona.      



The first official start of physician assistants in Arizona was when the profession was codified into law via   House Bill 2229 in 1972, which mandated that the Board (Joint Board of Medical Examiners and Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery) adopt rules, regulations, and standards for the approval of PAs on or before January 2, 1973.  


A small group of Arizona PAs decided it was in their best interest to form an organization. A letter was sent to all PAs by Buddy Woolbright to see if there was any interest in forming an association. At the time Buddy was working at the San Manuel, Division Hospital in San Manuel, Arizona.  The names of the initial "registered” PAs in Arizona are found in Table 1.

There is some controversy as to who were the first PAs licensed in Arizona (actually licensing came later but for our purpose we will use that word) since there were two "licensing” boards.  John Kemper became the first PA licensed in Arizona by the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Medicine in 1974 with the license number 100. He worked for Larry Tarno D.O.  The second PA licensed (Picture 1).  Michael E. Goodwin became the first PA licensed by the Board of Medical Examiners on August 21, 1973 with license number 101.            

Picture 1: First Licensed PA in Arizona

Table 1. First PAs in Arizona 

Alter, Bruce
Benson, AZ
Cookman, Marcy Lee
Phoenix, AZ
Gilbert, Vivian Lynn
Tucson, AZ
Goodwin, Michael E.
Phoenix, AZ
Gruber, Jerry Alan
Chandler, AZ
Kwan, tony
Scottsdale, AZ
Perkins, William Rufus
Dolan Springs, AZ
Price, William Lloyd
Sun City, AZ
Spangler, Patricia Webb
Phoenix, AZ
Winstead, Jeanette Irene
Scottsdale, AZ


An introductory meeting was held by a small but enthusiastic group of PAs on October 5, 1974 at the San Manuel Division Hospital. Those in attendance were Lynn Gilbert, Pat Spangler, Marcy Cookman, Tom Griffith, Jerry Grouper, Bruce Alter and Buddy Woolbright  (See Picture  2). The initial officers of the newly founded "Arizona State Physician’s Assistants” were President: Bruce Alter; Vice-President Buddy Woolbright; Secretary: Lynn Gilbert; and Treasurer: Tom Griffith.                    

Picture 2. Start Up Group of Arizona PAs



 The first annual conference of the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants (ASAPA) was on January 10, 1976 at the Doubletree Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr McGregor (Tucson) presented a lecture on "Gastroenterology in Family Medicine” and Don Powell (Attorney for ASAPA) spoke on legal aspects for the Arizona PA. The speaker at the evening banquet was Arizona House Majority Leader Burton Barr.   



In 1977 the Arizona legislature declared that health care personnel and facilities available to residents of rural and medically underserved areas of Arizona were inadequate to afford the basic elements of care necessary for their health and well being. Therefore, the legislature created an Act to enhance the level of healthcare available in rural and medically underserved areas by expanding the involvement of PAs. The impetus for addressing these concerns was Senate Bill 1372.  

Subsequently a PA regulatory program was established in broad terms under the joint control of the Board of Medical Examiners and the Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery. This statute granted the authority for PAs to prescribe and administer drugs for the first time in Arizona history. Administrative Rules were promulgated allowing PAs to write prescriptions for Schedule II and II medications for up to 48 hours and non-controlled substances for up to 30 days. These Rules provided the foundation for regulation of PAs through 1984. This was approved and signed by Governor Raul Castro on June 6, 1977.  

The second annual meeting of ASAPA as at the Del Webb Town House in Phoenix, Arizona on January 8, 1977 with Dr Clifford Harris speaking on "Two year experience with physician extenders” and "The Physician’s view of PA Programs in Arizona” by Dr Neal Vanselow, Dean of the College of Medicine over dinner.   ASAPA became an official chartered member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Roger Whittaker, President and Donald Fisher, Executive Director signed the charter.  



A co-sponsored CME by ASPAPA and the University of Arizona College of Medicine was held at Little America in Flagstaff, Arizona on July 15-17, 1983 and focused on adolescent medicine, OB, Otolaryngology, and Ophthalmology.  

Governor Bruce Babbitt  proclaimed March 17, 1984 as Physician Assistant Day.     



The 1984 Legislative session brought about significant changes for PAs in Arizona. House Bill 2449 repealed the Joint Board of Medical Examiners and Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery and established the Joint Board on the Regulation of Physician Assistants (JBORPA). The Act created a nine-member Board that consisted of the Chair (Dean of the College of Medicine), two PAs appointed by the Governor, one public member appointed by the Governor, two Osteopathic physicians appointed by the Board of Osteopathic Examiners, and three Allopathic physicians appointed by the Board of Medical Examiners. This new Act in 1984 defined the PAs regulatory program by incorporating the current rules at the time into statute with an attempt to create a firm legal foundation for the regulatory program.   



Governor Evan Mecham proclaimed October 6, 1987 as Physician Assistant Day.  



Senate Bill 1322 (1988) made several minor changes to the Board and also made it an act of "unprofessional conduct” for a PA to use the term "doctor” or the abbreviation "Dr.” in a way that leads the public to believe the PA is licensed to practice as an Allopathic or Osteopathic physician.  This Act also allowed for performance of healthcare tasks by a PA in a place, which was geographically separated from the supervising physician’s  (SP’s) primary place for meeting patients if adequate communication was available, if the PA was appropriately supervised, and a printed announcement was posted in the waiting room.  



In 1993 a sweeping delegatory law was enacted. Senate Bill 1397 removed the requirement that the board approve a PAs performance and employment (called the "job description”) and instead stipulated that the Board approve the supervising physician (SP) through a "notice of supervision” (NOS) form. For the first time in Arizona history, SPs could delegate health care tasks directly to the PA following Board approval of the NOS. This Act also allowed the Chair (Dean of the Medical School) to appoint a designee to represent him or her on the Board. Additional criteria for "unprofessional conduct” were expanded.  


Randy Danielsen, an Arizona PA, was honored as the Outstanding PA of the Year by the American Academy of Physician Assistants.



During the 1994 Legislative session, House Bill 2527 established the definition of minor surgery as those invasive procedures which may be delegated to a PA by an SP that were consistent with the training and experience of the PA which were normally taught in courses of training approved by the Board. This Act also removed the provision that prohibited PAs from prescribing parenteral preparations for use outside the place of employment or a health care institution.  



Two PA Programs started in Arizona. The Kirksville College of  Osteopathic Medicine Southwest Center (Later to become A.T. Still University) PA Program in Phoenix and Midwestern University PA Program in Glendale, AZ.   Richard Chistensen was the ASAPA PA of the Year.



In 1998 further sweeping statutory changes (House Bill 2404) included reconfiguration of the Board to eliminate the requirement that the Board Chair be the Dean of  the University of Arizona and added more Governor appointed PAs and two public members to the Board. Certification was changed to licensure. As a result of this legislative action, the Board was mandated to elect a chairperson and vice chairperson on an annual basis leading to Richard Christensen being the first PA elected chairperson of a regulatory board.



The ASAPA Annual CME was held March 15-18, 2000 at the Sedona Doubletree Resort in Sedona, Arizona.  


The ASAPA annual CME was held at the Hilton Sedona Resort on April 25-28, 2000 in Sedona, Arizona. Dr Bill Morgan spoke on Asthma & Allergy, Dr Meyer on Domestic Violence, Dr Konrad Kail on Naturopathic Medicine, and Norman Bizon PA-C on common hand problems.



Governor Jane Dee hull proclaimed October 6, 2002 a Physician Assistant Day.  


Picture 3: Governor Hull Signs Proclamation.  

Robert E. Walkup, Mayor of Tucson proclaimed October 4, 2002 as Physician Assistant Day in the City of Tucson.  

Skip Rimsza, Mayor of Phoenix proclaimed October 6, 2002 as Physician Assistant Day in Phoenix.  

The ASAPA Annual CME was held April 24-27, 2002 at the Sedona Doubletree Resort in Sedona, Arizona.  

Richard Christensen was the ASAPA PA of the Year. 



Governor Janet Napolitano proclaimed October 6, 2003 as Physician Assistant Day.     



House Bill 2006, which allowed licensed PAs to provide medical care without supervision in the case of natural disasters or other emergency situations in which immediate communication with their supervising physician was deemed impossible, passed and was signed into law by Governor Janet Napolitano.  


The ASAPA Annual CME was held this year at the Sedona Doubletree Resort in Sedona, Arizona. Brenda Kimery from Mayo spoke on colonoscopy and colorectal cancer screening.  Zachery Hartsell, also from Mayo, on perioperative management of aniticoagulants.      



Pamela Burwell, an Arizona PA, was honored as the AAPA Humanitarian of the Year for her volunteer work in Honduras after the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.     



Governor Jan Brewer proclaimed October 6-12, 2010 as Physician Assistant Week.     



In a process, which began with the filing of a sunrise application with the Arizona Legislature on September 1st, 2010, Senate Bill 1030 passed and was signed into law on April 19, 2011. This legislation, effective July 20, 2011, authorized Physician Assistants (PAs) to prescribe Schedule II and III Controlled Substances under the supervision of a physician for up to 30 days.

Arizona’s "PA Modernization Act" (HB 2021) Law went into effect January 1, 2011. The Modernization Act eliminated a requirement that physicians file a notice of supervision with the regulatory board, it removed a requirement that physicians designate an "agent" to supervise in the doctor's absence, it increased the number of PAs a physician may supervise at any one time from 2 to 4, and allowed weekly meetings required for PAs practicing in remote areas to be conducted via telecommunication.

Table 2. Names of ASAPA Presidents 

Year Name   Year Name
Year Name
1974 Bruce Alter   1995 Preston Miller   2016  John Shaff 
1975 Bruce Alter   1996 Lynette Mattingly   2017 Gerry Keenan
1976 Buddy Woolbright   1997 Joan Reynolds   2018  Jennifer Feirstein
1977 Chuck Horan   1998 Rick Davis   2019
Kirsten Bonnin
1978 Michael Quirk   1999 Joan Reynolds    2020 Jacob Gubler
1979 Chuck Horan   2000 Dave Larson      
1980 Stephen Nunn   2001 Anne Elliott      
1981 Dale Hanson   2002 Max McHugh      
1982 Randy Danielsen   2003 Neil Erickson      
1983 David Rueb   2004 Robin Cremer      
1984 Ann Davis   2005 Bob Torrigan      
1985 Randy Danielsen   2006 Kim Sargent      
1986 Dave Larson   2007 Kari Shmul      
1987 Ron Butlin   2008 Michelle DiBaise      
1988 John Steele   2009 Tracy Jones      
1989 Scott Brown   2010 Jacqueline Spiegel      
1990 Nan White-Sharp   2011 Christopher Davis      
1991 Dave Larson   2012 Cynthia Reilly      
1992 Les Swafford   2013 Emily Babcock      
1993 Randy Danielsen   2014 Allan Boutwell       
1994 Rick Davis    2015 Jennifer Francyk       

Disclaimer: ASAPA promotes recognition and understanding of the physician assistant profession in Arizona by documenting the timeline and efforts of those who have contributed to its development, evolution and promotion. The information contained herein is based solely on the memory of past leaders with some sketchy documentation. Any errors in fact or misrepresentations are unintentional. ASAPA appreciates emails updating and correcting any of the material here as well as copies of any documents, films, papers, reports that will enhance this site for the viewer interested in the PA profession in Arizona. Please contact Randy Danielsen at

  Year Name