James Cawley, PA-C, M.P.H

James Cawley, PA-C, M.P.H

James F. Cawley is a Professor of the Department of Prevention and Community Health. He is also a Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at GW's School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

  • Phone: (202)994-3573
  • Email: purljfc@aol.com
  • Office Address:
    950 New Hampshire Avenue
    310 - Floor 3
    Washington, DC 20052

Professor Cawley and the physician assistant (PA) profession have grown up together. For 39 years he has worked as a certified practitioner in primary care, an educator, a scholar and a leader, playing a pivotal role in moving his field forward. "I was fortunate to have entered the physician assistant profession in its early stages of development, and have been able to describe and analyze its history and evolution within the U.S. health care system," says Professor Cawley. He is director of the School's joint Physician Assistant/MPH program, which he founded and which was the first of its type in the US, training individuals for careers that bridge clinical practice and prevention. At the invitation of the U.S. Bureau of Health Professions, he chaired the Advisory Group on Physician Assistants and the Work Force in 1993, and was principal author of its report to the Council on Graduate Medical Education. Professor Cawley also served as a member of the U.S. Public Health Service National Coordinating Committee on Clinical Preventive Services (1989-95) and the federal Advisory Committee for Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry. He is co-author of Physician Assistants in a Changing Health Care Environment, and of Physician Assistants: Policy and Practice, 3rd Edition published in 2010. Cawley has authored more than 85 peer-reviewed papers in the biomedical literature on topics spanning the PA profession, primary care and the health workforce, health workforce policy, preventive medicine, health promotion, health care delivery, and infectious disease epidemiology. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the AAPA, was a Primary Care Health Policy Fellow in the Health Resources and Services Administration, and is a past president of the Physician Assistant Education Association and the PA Foundation. In 2011, he was the first PA recipient of the Eugene Stead Award for lifetime achievement by American Academy of Physician Assistants.


Bachelor of Arts (History/Political Science), St. Francis College, 1970
Bachelor of Science, Physician Assistant Program, Touro College, 1974
Master of Public Health (Epidemiology), Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, 1979
Epidemic Intelligence Service Course in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1988


PubH 6510: COPC Policy PubH 6099: Physician Assistant/Masters in Public Health Seminar, Department of Prevention and Community Health PubH 6001: Biologic Concepts of Public Health PA 6219: Role of the Physician Assistant in Health Care, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, School of Medicine and Health Sciences


Professor Cawley's primary research interests focus on the physician assistant profession, primary care, and health work force policy. In addition to co-authoring four books on the PA field, he has published extensively in the areas of primary care and health workforce policy.

Community Service

Through his leadership positions in the field, Professor Cawley has worked to increase access to primary care through the use of physician assistants and other nonphysician clinicians. In addition to his service to the PA Foundation, he has served on the executive board of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and was President of the Association of Physician Assistant Programs. His public health endeavors include a stint with the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC, where he was a fellow of the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine. He has served on the Board of Governors of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Physician Assistant Education.


  • Chronic Disease
  • Community Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research
  • Healthcare Workforce
  • Infectious Disease
  • Organizational Change
  • Physician Assistant


Institutes & Centers