Provisions for regulating physician assistants were first enacted by Laws 1972, Chapter 139. Current regulatory authority and duties of the Board of Physicians Assistants is found at A.R.S. §§ 32-2501 through 32-2558.
The Board was established “to promote the safe and professional practice of health care tasks performed by physician assistants.” Laws 2018, Chapter 29, Purpose. The Board consists of 11 members appointed by the Governor to four-year terms. Its primary duty is to protect the public from unlawful, incompetent, unqualified, impaired or unprofessional physician assistants. It licenses and regulates physician assistants, develops standards governing the profession, and administers disciplinary proceedings. Physician assistants perform medical services and must be supervised by a physician. The supervising physician retains professional and legal responsibility for the care provided by physician assistants.
In 1972, legislation established the Joint Board of Medical Examiners and the Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery, chaired by the Dean of the University of Arizona Medical School. The Board was responsible for adopting rules, regulations and standards for physician’s assistants (PAs). PAs were prohibited from practicing chiropractic medicine, dentistry, naturopathy, optometry, or working as dispensing opticians or pharmacists. See Laws 1972, Chapter 139.
Laws 1977, Chapter 159 repealed and rewrote language adopted in 1972, providing for regulation and certification of physician’s assistants, creating the Joint Board of Medical Examiners and Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery (Board) and outlining its powers and duties. The purpose clause stated in part “...The legislature intends by this act to enhance the level of health care available in rural and other medically underserved areas by expanding the involvement of physician’s assistants in the health care delivery system of this state.” The measure addressed immunity and enforcement procedures; allowed the Board to appoint committees and to establish and collect fees; and included transition language for PAs holding a valid registration prior to the 1977 enactment. Note: The measure also addressed topics not specifically related to PAs (e.g. medical clinics, health service districts, medically underserved areas and responsibility for services rendered to indigents).
Laws 1984, Chapter 102 rewrote statutory provisions relating to regulation of PAs and included a purpose clause which stated that due to the broad terms and brevity of the program established in 1977, the regulatory provisions had largely been implemented by administrative rule. “The purpose of this act is to statutorily define the physician’s assistant regulatory program by incorporating the current rules of the Joint Board…into statute to create a firm legal foundation for the physician’s assistant regulatory program and establish a joint committee on the regulation of physician’s assistants to administer and enforce those statutes.” The measure created the Joint Board on the Regulation of Physician’s Assistants, which replaced and assumed the powers and duties of the Joint Board of Medical Examiners and Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery. In addition to Board responsibilities, the measure outlined certification requirements, continuing education requirements, scope of practice and restrictions, approval of employment, and disciplinary actions.
Laws 1993, Chapter 197 changed the heading of Title 32, Chapter 25 from “Physician’s Assistants” to “Physician Assistants” and made clarifying and conforming changes.
Laws 1994, Chapter 262 expanded physician assistants’ scope of practice.
Laws 1998, Chapter 205 modified qualifications for Board membership, increased the number of members on the Board and allowed members to serve two full terms. The measure made a number of changes to the powers and duties of the Board and allowed PAs to prescribe schedule II and III controlled substances under certain conditions. In addition the measure changed the regulation of PAs from certification to licensure.
Laws 2002, Chapter 277 renamed the Board as the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants; modified Board duties and responsibilities; modified prescription authority for PAs and qualifications for licensure; and addressed disciplinary actions.
Laws 2015, Chapter 84 required PAs to renew their license every two years, rather than annually.
Laws 2017, Chapter 327 required fingerprinting and a state and federal criminal records check for prospective Board members.
Three measures were enacted in 2019 that impacted physician assistant statutes.
Laws 2019, Chapter 4 outlined requirements related to prescribing controlled substances for several agencies and authorized the Board to certify physician assistants to prescribe certain controlled substances.
Laws 2019, Chapter 195 allowed the Board to authorize its executive director to issue licenses, certifications, registrations, preceptorships, reinstatements and waivers to eligible applicants who meet the requirements identified in the statute. In addition, the Board may issue temporary licenses of thirty days to qualified applicants who meet the statutory requirements and may adopt rules to carry out the new provisions.
A third enactment in 2019 requires the Board to regulate the unauthorized practice of the profession by investigating complaints and referring verified complaints to the county attorney or attorney general for prosecution. See Laws 2019, Chapter 227.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§32-2501 et seq.
- Arizona Administrative Code (A.A.C.) §§R4-17-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1972, Chapter 139
- Laws 1977, Chapter 159
- Laws 1984, Chapter 102
- Laws 1993, Chapter 197
- Laws 1994, Chapter 262
- Laws 1998, Chapter 205
- Laws 2002, Chapter 277
- Laws 2015, Chapter 84
- Laws 2017, Chapter 327
- Laws 2018, Chapter 29
- Laws 2019, Chapter 4, Chapter 195 and Chapter 227
Sunset Review of the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants, November, 2017.
Annual Report of the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants