Skip to Main Content


Jack Cole Society

The Jack W. Cole Society is the Yale chapter of the Student Academy of American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA).

Dr. Cole was a founder and very important advocate of our program, its students and the PA profession during the 1970s. The society participates in community service projects, secures speakers on various topics and organizes social events.

Jack Westley Cole, M.D.

Founding Father of the Yale Physician Associate Program

Photo by Terry Dagradi
Jack W. Cole, MD

Dr. Jack W. Cole earned his BS degree from the University of Oregon in 1939 and received his M.D. degree in 1944 from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After completing his surgical residency at the University Hospital of Cleveland, Ohio, he taught at the Western Reserve University where he attained tenure as faculty professor. He entered into the military and served as Captain in the Medical Corps and Chief of Surgery of the 120th Station in Bayreuth, Germany. Upon fulfilling his military duties, he accepted the position of Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1963. Dr. Cole came to Yale three years later and served as the Chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1966 through 1986. During that time, he also served as Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Yale from 1978-1986 and subsequently retired in 1986.

In the late 1960s, in response to an overwhelming need for improvement in the area of trauma care, Dr. Cole applied for grants from the Commonwealth Fund. He was awarded 3 million dollars to support the proposal which was to provide better-equipped ambulances, hospitals and properly trained personnel. As part of the endeavor, the Yale Physician Associate Program was conceived to train medical personnel to assist in the surgical and medical management of patients.

Dr. Cole traveled the country and the world as a visiting professor including positions in London, Saigon and Taiwan, and was twice a Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Visiting Fellow. His involvement in professional societies has been immeasurable. He was a founding member of the American Trauma Society, and he was president of the New England Cancer Society and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Institutional Research Grants of the American Cancer Society. Besides his numerous contributions to the field of medical education, he served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Graduate Education of the American Medical Association, and was on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cancer Research Institute at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Cole died June 17, 2002 in Camden, ME, at the age of 81.