The Differences Between Canadian Armed Forces and Civillian Physician Assistants: An Interview Series

Differences Between CAF and Civillian PAs


  • Ms. Sophie Kennedy University of Manitoba; MPAS Dept of Family Medicine



Canadian Armed Forces Physician Assistants, CAF-PA, Canadian Health Workforce


The number of Physician Assistants (PA) in Canadian healthcare will grow as the population increases and ages. The closure of the Canadian Armed Forces Physician Assistant Education Program will increase the direct entry of civilian-educated PAs into military service. Knowing the factors related to military or civilian education and practice is essential in understanding this human resource. Information for this qualitative study was gathered through structured interviews to develop and explore the themes occurring during the Canadian Armed Forces Physician Assistant’s journey through their career, education deployment, and transition to civilian employment. Civilian PAs joining the military must understand that the military is a controlled environment that requires flexibility and adaptability, but a high level of comradery is among the benefits. Role differences were noted in military and civilian practice and explored the experiences, practice environments, teamwork, resiliency, flexibility, limited range of patient ages, and medical conditions limited clinical experiences. The transitions into civilian practice by military PAs resulted in a steep learning curve related to the health concerns more common to civilian populations. Still, they were backed by the confidence and attributes those individuals developed in the military. Regarding work environments, the military requires and offers unique experiences and posting to remote locations, naval ships, and overseas, which can result in autonomous practice only found in specific rural civilian areas.

Author Biography

Ms. Sophie Kennedy, University of Manitoba; MPAS Dept of Family Medicine

Ms. Kennedy is an MPAS candidate graduating in October 2023 from the University of Manitoba.


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How to Cite

Kennedy, S. (2023). The Differences Between Canadian Armed Forces and Civillian Physician Assistants: An Interview Series: Differences Between CAF and Civillian PAs. The Journal of Canada’s Physician Assistants, 4(9), 2–11.