A caduceus with acorns and sprigs of oak leaves at its base was the specialty mark of the now-discontinued Warrant Officer specialty Physician’s Assistant. It is displayed prominently on the Hard and Enhanced shoulder boards worn by CWOs on white Dress and Service uniform coats and jackets, uniform shirts, sweaters, and outerwear garments.

Worn in the same manner by both male and female CWOs, Hard and Enhanced boards are issued in regular (Large) and three-quarter-scale (Small) sizes (size is not gender-dependent). Hard boards are worn on authorized uniforms with shoulder loops, while the more diminutive Enhanced boards are attached to epaulettes.

Use the Type, Rank, and Size selection boxes to the right to specify the appropriate board for your uniform. Full guidance on shoulder-board wear is found in Section 4.A.1 of COMDTINST M1020.6J, Uniform Regulations.
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The concept of Physician’s Assistant was the brainchild of Dr. Eugene Stead, chairman of Duke University’s Department of Medicine. Stead believed that the practical, hands-on experience in delivering basic medical care acquired by Navy Corpsmen and Medics could be used to relieve the demand for full-fledged MDs, and his efforts led to the 1965 launch of Duke University’s Physician Assistant program. Four former Navy Corpsmen comprised the first class, and one of the graduates, Victor Germino, went on to become one of the Coast Guard’s first commissioned Physician’s Assistant Warrant Officers.

By 1988, however, the Coast Guard began transitioning Physician’s Assistants from Warrant Officers to Commissioned Officers. The Physician Assistant CWO specialty mark remained in Coast Guard uniform manual for over a decade because of the CWOs still serving in the specialty, but by February 2004 there was just a single active-duty Physician Assistant out of 1,473 active-duty Chief Warrant Officers.

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