OPAs and PAs: Past and Present Realities

Jason Mazza, MSc, OPA-C, CSA, SA-C, OTC, CCRC

Orthopaedic physician assistants (OPAs) and physician assistants (PAs) are two different professions despite having similar titles. To understand the use of the common title requires a brief review of the history of the professions.

In 1967, the AAOS developed a board to review and accredit orthopaedic assistant programs in training individuals who could assist orthopaedic surgeons in managing patient care and assisting with fracture immobilization and surgery. Beginning in 1971, these individuals were known as OPAs.

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