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Physician assistants are gaining greater autonomy

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Iowa physician assistants who have practiced medicine for at least two years will no longer need to be supervised by a specific physician under a new law.

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with Brianne Cook, a physician assistant in residence at the University of Iowa, who is hopeful that House File 424 will broaden career opportunities after her graduate school and professional experiences were hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Physician assistant Jim Earel discusses the history of PAs and how this legislation successfully passed in the statehouse, and Dr. Jon Van Heukelom — who oversees the UI emergency medicine physician assistant residency — gives his thoughts on the loosening of PA requirements in order to expand Iowans' access to healthcare.

This episode was originally produced May 25, 2023.


  • Brianne Cook, PA-C
  • Jim Earel, PA-C, legislative and health policy chair, Iowa Physician Assistant Society
  • Jon Van Heukelom, MD, clinical professor of emergency medicine, University of Iowa Health Care
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.