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PA Proud

Following his retirement from the George Washington University (GW) Physician Assistant (PA) Program, James Cawley, PA-C, MPH, DHL (Hon.), reflecting on his impact on the university and on the profession, said he has “enjoyed every minute of it.”

Cawley, former professor of PA studies at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and professor of population and community health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW, founded and directed the GW PA-MPH program, the first of its kind. The idea for the joint program came from Cawley’s own experiences. He graduated from PA school in 1974 and went to work at Johns Hopkins Medicine as a primary care clinician.

The idea for the joint program came from Cawley’s own experiences. He graduated from PA school in 1974 and went to work at Johns Hopkins Medicine as a primary care clinician. While there, Cawley decided to get his Master of Public Health degree, which he says opened his eyes to the larger world of medicine and public health. “It was so meaningful to me, and I wanted to make that opportunity available for other PA grads,” he said.

Cawley dedicated more than three decades of his life to the GW PA Program, and in October 2018 the faculty presented him with the Distinguished Public Service Award. “Given his more than 40 years of service as a PA, as an educator, as a scholar, as a leader, I can’t think of anybody more deserving of this recognition,” Maura Polansky, PA-C, MS, MHPE, chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, said at the time.

Now, Cawley is looking forward to semi-retirement. He says he’ll still write and teach when opportunities present themselves, but that he’s also looking forward to hitting the golf course and spending time with his grandchildren. However, he adds that he’ll also always remember his time at GW.

“The GW PA program was one of the first in the country,” he notes. “It was a great program then, and is a great program now. I’m fortunate to have been a part of it.”