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Your Vote Counts: Physician Assistant or Physician Associate? April 17, 2010
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Robert M. Blumm, MA, RPA-C, DFAAPA About the Author
Robert M. Blumm, MA, RPA-C, DFAAPA

Dear PA:

At the present moment almost every PA in the nation will receive information on an issue that many feel strongly about and feel that it is incumbent of our leadership to address. We recently wrote a position paper on changing our name to Physician Associate. I will attach this to my e-mail since I am only addressing a few hundred PAs. Many on this list have strong feelings about leadership and when an issue such as this surfaces to the magnitude that it will, leaders need to step up to the plate and make a comment. The new slate of AAPA leaders will be faced with taking the "company stance" which was once fairly valid but ceases to be so, they can stand up and be counted for change or can say nothing. Leaders should never say nothing!

I request that you contact those that are running for AAPA office and if you have not yet voted, ask these leaders to explain where they stand. this will be a wholesome move for the profession. I am not asking anyone to vote based upon the opinion of the leader but to vote for leaders who are not afraid to make a statement that its members are crying out to hear.

Please contact your AAPA leadership and request a response from the individuals. This will not become an issue until the 2011 HOD unless every state cries out for action and every specialty group has a vision for the needful change.BTW, there is a new group on Facebook that is named Physician Associate and rose spontaneously and independent of our paper. they have over 450 members already. The wind is blowing, set your sails!

Warmly,
Bob Blumm
Robert M. Blumm, MA, PA-C, DFAAPA
National Consultant PA/NP Services

 

Bob Blumm, PA-C


Robert M. Blumm has received national recognition as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). He is the past president of the Association of Plastic Surgery Physician Assistants, and was past-president of the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants, past president of the American College of Clinicians and NYSSPA, as well as Chairman of the Surgical Congress of the AAPA. In addition, Bob received the John Kirklin MD Award for Professional Excellence from the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants. Along with his associate, Dr. Acker, Bob was the first recipient of the AAPA PAragon Physician-PA Partnership Award. He has been a contributing author of three textbooks, written 150 plus articles and is a sought out conference speaker throughout the United States.

 


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Physician Associate: A Change Whose Time Has Come

We, the undersigned physician assistant leaders assert that the time to change the name of our profession has arrived. While we can debate much about a name change, we have all agreed to the below statements and thoughts. We also fully agree that the name change advocated below will advance the profession. We call on the leaders of the profession and all PAs to announce and start to implement this change as soon as possible. We are leaders who believe it is increasingly unwise to wait longer to make this long-needed change.  Collectively, the below-signed PAs have given much of their lives to the profession and are dedicated to its advancement.

Why We Need a Change
Our profession’s original name was physician associate. Physicians demanded that “associate” be changed on the grounds that it did not properly describe the desired scope of PA practice. Forty years later we have outgrown the "assistant" title. It no longer accurately represents the profession. It is inaccurate and confuses consumers. The title is misleading and carries negative connotations which we can and should avoid. As we move into a new model of healthcare delivery it is of the utmost importance that our profession’s name accurately describes our role.

Why a Change Is Justified
-- The PA role is truly one of partnership; of association and collegiality. We work as associates and have for many years. Our profession’s birth-name in 1965 was physician associate.

-- “Physicians assistant” is a generic term. It can mean anything: a person in the office that bills patients, a records assistant, the person that sets up and cleans the exam room, all the way to a certified, licensed PA. The profession must move from this generic name to one that aptly and more accurately describes our function

-- In our society, "assistant" denotes a technical job, not a profession.

-- PAs are held to the same legal and medical standards as physicians.

-- The title is confusing and misleading to our patients and the public in general. Since the name practically guarantees that “physician assistants” will be confused with “medical assistants”, patients are at risk of thinking they are receiving substandard care or expect that after the “assistant” a physician will also be seeing them. Most times this does not happen, nor does the physician or the PA expect it to happen. It is time to have the name mirror the reality that exists.

-- The internationalization of PAs is important to the profession. Having to explain that the common meaning of the name “assistant” under-represents our true practice is a barrier, in international forums, to full understanding.

-- The above problems also may keep prospective applicants and others away from becoming PAs as they would not want to go through extensive schooling only to become someone's assistant.

-- Almost all professions at the level of training of a PA (pharmacy, PT, OT, NP) are or soon will be at the doctorate level. Our education and practice is professional, as should be our title.

-- “Assistant” obscures the PA's true role in the practice. Physicians who might otherwise consider a PA do not hire one as they feel they need someone more than just another "assistant".

-- All professions should be able to name their profession. “Physician Assistant” both demeans and misrepresents our profession. It is time to claim the name that is both appropriate and our birthright and discard the one that was forced upon us.

The Process
-- The profession, ideally through the AAPA Board or HOD, should immediately adopt a policy that states that "Hereafter the profession will work to be retitled "Physician Associate," as it more accurately reflects the profession in the 21st century".

-- If the Board or House is reluctant to do this on their own, then the entire profession should be polled using the AAPA's full database.

-- This renaming can be done over a number of years, with the ability reserved to use either title in the interim if necessary, depending on state legislation, etc.

-- The PA profession should advise organized medicine that this change is not an effort for independent practice but is a move to more accurately describe the scope and status of the profession and place it at a level where it belongs. It should also be explained that the name physician associate had been chosen for us by organized medicine to represent the PA profession 45 years ago. PAs should stress that after 45 years of delivering quality medical care across the entire spectrum of practice, we are choosing a more appropriate name and that we would expect nothing less than the full support of organized medicine, which will also benefit from the change.

-- PA programs should include the name physician associate whenever possible--along with the title physician assistant if need be.

-- “Physician Associate” allows us continued use of the initials "PA", which are well-known to the public.

-- “Associate” does not imply that PAs are equal to physicians. Associate professors are not full professors. Associate deans are not full deans. There are precedents for this.

-- The profession should consider funding State-level efforts to effect this change.

-- The argument that a change will open laws at the State level is a hollow one. This action can be introduced as a "cosmetic" name change amendment which will have no impact on PA practice law. If opposed, the profession can educate the legislature as to the source of the opposition, that we are asking for no increased privileges, and the current title is confusing consumers and others

-- This name change should be done BEFORE the profession embarks upon any large public relations campaign. We can effectively brand the profession through the use of the new name, avoiding any confusion of our status when compared with medical, podiatry, chiropractic and other assistants.

Therefore, we the undersigned PAs declare that because of the above reasons and more, the PA profession should adopt the name "Physician Associate" and begin an educational campaign to other medical professionals and the public regarding Physician Associates.

1. Robert M. Blumm, MA, PA-C, DFAAPA, Immediate past president APSPA, Past president AASPA, Immediate past president ACC, Past president NYSSPA, Past AAPA Liaison To ACS, ACC Liaison to ACS, Past Chair Surgical Congress AAPA, Editorial Board Advance for PAs, Clinician 1, Advanced Practice Jobs, past editorial board member Physician Assistant, Clinician News, Author, National Conference Speaker, Consultant, Paragon Award Winner Physician /PA Team, John Kirklin M.D. Award for Excellence in Surgery

2.Robin Morgenstern, PA past AAPA Secretary, past president Illinois Academy of PAs, past Director of the PA Program of Cook County Hospital, Chicago, Past Midwest Advertising manager Clinician Reviews Journal.

3.Maryann Ramos, MPH, PA-C, Founding President NJSSPA, Secretary of the AAPA House of Delegates, Delegate or Alternate for many years; Current Member, Nominating Committee; Current Legislative Chair for Physician Assistants for Latino Health - Puerto Rico; Past President American Academy of Physician Assistants in Occupational Medicine; Established Liaison between occupational physicians and PAs and Affiliate PA Membership in ACOEM; Awarded the Meritorious Civilian Performance Medal, US Army Medical Corps, 2008; Past Federal Civilian PA of the Year 2002(AAPA Veteran's Caucus); Past PA of the Year (AAPA President's Award 1980)

4.Blaine Carmichael, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, Co-Founder Association, Past president, Vice President and current Delegate at Large of Family Practice Physician Assistants, Founder Bexar County PA Society, Founder, Que Paso - What's Happening PAs of San Antonio, Moderator of PRIMARY PA forum, Board Member, American College of Clinicians, Founding member of PA History, Texas PA of the year, 1990, has published widely and speaks at many national, state and local PA conferences

5. Dave Mittman, PA. Past AAPA Director, Past President NY State Society of PAs, Co-Founder and creator Clinician Reviews Journal and Clinician 1. Medical Communications Expert. First PA in the USAF Reserves. Lifetime PA Achievement Award/President'sAward NJSSPA and NYSSPAAAPA National Public Education Award Winner-1983

6. Frank Rodino, PA, MHS, Past Public Education Chair AAPA, Past NYSSPA President. Currently President and CEO Churchill Communications: A Medical/Scientific Communications Company

7. Thomas Roselle, PA-C Past NYSSPA Consultant, PA Entrepreneur, Clinic Owner

8. David M. Jones, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA, Member, Past Governmental Affairs Council, AAPA Legislative Co-Chair for at least 10 years, Oregon Society of PAs (Chair for the 2009 session), Past President of OSPA (twice), AAPA Co-Rural PA of the year 1988; second term as a member of the PA Committee, Oregon Medical Board

9. Roy Cary, PA-C, DFAAPA Co-founder and past president of The American Academy of Physician Assistants in Legal Medicine. Co-founder in Cary & Associates, LLC and holds a position as Senior Partner. Mr. Cary is also a member of the Physician Assistant Advisory Committee of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners. Retired Air Force Major.

10. James R Piotrowski, PA-C, MS , DFAAPA , Co-founder Association of Neurosurgical Physician Assistants , Past president of ANSPA , Past Vice President and board member of FAPA , Co-founder of the FAPA-PAC , Past member Florida BOM PA Committee, Past Trustee of the AAPA PAC and Chairman of the AAPA-PAC , Past PA member of the council of AANS and CNS, Past editor of the ANSPA 's Journal.

11. Lisa D' Andrea Lenell, PA-C, MPAS. Internal Medicine PA, Adjunct Faculty Midwestern University, National Radio Host ReachMD XM160

12. Michael Halasy, MS, PA-C Health Policy Analyst/Researcher Author of well known PA Blog

13. Gary Falcetano, PA-C, Bariatric Medicine, Stockton NJ, Managing Director – Collaborative Clinical Communications, LLC. Captain (Ret.) US Army Reserve, Past Group Publisher Clinician Reviews / Emergency Medicine / Urgent Care, journals.

14. Charles O'Leary, PA-C, Hominy Family Health Center [FQHC], 35-year practice same site; LTC [Retired] US Army/OKARNG [2 tours Afghanistan, awarded BSM/CMB]; past-OAPA Vice-President, Past OAPA Newsletter Editor, 1992 Oklahoma Rural PA of Year, OU-Tulsa Medical College PA Preceptor, Past Hominy School Board President, Past Commander American Legion Post 142

15. Gerry Keenan PA-C, MMS, Emergency Medicine, Bar Harbor, Maine

16. Martin Morales, PA MHA. Director, Physician Assistant Services, Long Island Jewish Medical Center / North Shore LIJ Health System.

17. Stephen E. Lyons MS, PA-C, W .Cheyenne Clinic Coordinator, Take Care

18. Robert Nelson, PA-C. Executive Director, Island Eye Surgicenter, LI, NY. Administrator a various surgicenters in NY metropolitan area, Author, Speaker, Director at Large-Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society, Member Corporate Development Planning Committee OOSS, Consultant, Surgical PA 30 years.

19. Eric Holden, PA-C, MPA, EMT-P 23 years of practice in emergency medicine.Member of state, federal, and international disaster medical teams. Medical provider at level 1 and 2 trauma ctrs, HMO's, community E.D.'s, rural/under served E.D.'s, and solo provider at high acuity inner city facility. Author of multiple articles in peer reviewed medical journals.

20. Rebecca Rosenberger, MMSc, PA-C, Current President AAPA-AAI

21. j. Michael Jones, MPAS-C, Chair PA Section American Headache Society, Director Cascade Neurologic-Headache Clinic..

22. Pamela Burwell, MS, PA-C. Distinguished Fellow, AAPA .Founder and Director, Peacework Medical Projects. AAPA Humanitarian of the YearArizona PA of the Year

23. Eleanor H. Abel, RPAC, MS, CRC Upstate Medical University, Syracuse-current District B Director At Large, NYSSPA. Liaison and membership chair for NYRCA. Medical provider with 22 years of experience in Hematology/Oncology and previously employed in Surgery and also Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Specialize in pain management, advocacy for people with disabilities, Past coordinator and current assistant coordinator for the NYSSPA Public Education Committee

24. Ronald H. Grubman, PA-C Founder, Conmed Inc., 1984. President and CEO for 23 years. Conmed acquired and currently a public company on the NYSE. 25. Ken Harbert, Ph.D., CHES, PA-C, DFAAPA Dean, School of Physician Assistant Studies. South College, Knoxville, TN

26. Eric Schuman, MPAS, PA-C. Adult & Pediatric Neurology Kaiser Permanente Portland, Oregon. Adjunct Assistant Professor, Oregon Health & Science University Physician Assistant Program

27. Charles A. Moxin, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, Past President Association of Family Practice Physician Assistants, Past AAPA HOD delegate for Family Practice, Past Editorial Board member for Arthritis Practitioner, Author, National Conference Speaker, Pharmaceutical Advisory Board member

28. Kenneth E. Korber, PA PhD(c): Director of Strategic Development - CE Outcomes LLC, Curriculum Architect - First PA Postgraduate Fellowship in Cardiovascular Care, Clinical Associate University of Illinois College of Medicine, Past Member Board of Directors: Association of PAs in Cardiology, Member - Association of Postgraduate PA Programs, Founder - AAPA Medical Writers Special Interest Group; former Faculty - AAPA Chapter Lecture Series.

29. Kenneth DeBarth, RPA-C, Past President NYSSPA, Past NYSSPA Newsletter Editor, Past Secretary/Treasurer South Dakota Academy of PAs, founding editor SDAPA newsletter, past chair AAPA Professional Practices and Relations Committee, former owner Heuvelton Medical Group, NY.

30. Ryan O'Gowan, PA-C, FAPACVS. Acting Manager, NP/PA Critical Care Workgroup. Program Director Physician Assistant Residency In Critical Care
Umass Memorial Healthcare

31. Chris Hanifin, PA-C. NJSSPA Immediate Past President

32. Cindy Burghardt, MS, PA-C, Nephrology PA for Renal Associates, San Antonio, Texas.

33. John Sallis, MBA, MMS, PA-C PA consultant -Negotiation management

34. James Doody, PA-C Director of Pediatrics and Primary Care 1st Health Centers, Assistant Clinical Professor University of Colorado Health Science Center, former Director of Pediatrics Lake Grove School, Editorial Board Member Physician Assistant Magazine, Provider liason Medical Home Initiative for State of Colorado.

35. Karen Fields, MSPAS, PA-C Founder of Medical Mentoring (medicalmentors. net); Cofounder PAWorld.net

36. Richard Mayer, PA. Vice President Provider and Network Development. Lenox Hill Hospital, NY NY

37. Sharon Bahrych, PA-C, MPH, listed in Marquis’s Who’s Who of American Women, published author of 60 lay and medical journal articles, state and national CME presenter,co-founder of APAO, clinical trials researcher with a NIH rated grant, currently working on a PhD.

38. George Berry, MPAS, PA-C. Pediatric Trauma Coordinator Regional Pediatric Trauma Center, Schneider Children's Hospital
North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System

39. Lisa F. Campo, MPAS, PA, DFAAPA; Past President NYSSPA. Former Chief Delegate/ delegate AAPA HOD; former Committee member Wagner College PA Program Advisory and Admission Committees; President LCFC-LLC Consulting; Advanced Clinical Physician Associate the Mount Sinai Medical Center; practicing PA 30 years.

40. Kristina Marsack, PA-C, President, Association Plastic Surgery PAs, past-Treasurer, APSPA

41. John W. Bullock, PA-C, DFAAPA. Past Chief Consultant to the US Air Force Surgeon General for Physician Assistants, Founding member and past Vice President of PAs in Orthopaedic Surgery. AAPA Federal Services PA of the Year.

42. William Gentry, MPAS, PA-C Senior Physician Assistant-Neurology Audie L. Murphy Veterans Medical Center

43. Harmony Johnson PA-C, MMS President, PAs for Global Health

44. Cristobal E Perez, PA-C Faculty Associate, Department of Neurosurgery. UTHSCSA

45. Frank Crosby, PA-C One of first PAs to practice in UK

46. David L. Patten, PA-C, COL, SP, TXARNG. Deputy Commander for Texas Medical Command

47. Michael France, CCRC, MPAS, PA-C, Director of Clinical Research, Alamo Medical Research, MAJ USAF Retired

48. Robert L. Hollingsworth, DHSc, MS, PA-C. Owner, Sole Provider Red Springs Family Medicine Clinic, N.C. Preceptor for the Physician Assistant Programs at Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C, Duke University in Durham N.C. and East Carolina University, in Greenville, N.C. Active preceptor for several Nurse Practitioner Programs within the state. Former Instructor: Methodist College Physician Assistant Program

49. James C. Allen, IV, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA; Director, Physician Assistant Clinical Training Programs, University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston/Correctional Managed Care; Former Secretary Bexar County PA Society 2003-2005; Dual Certified Aerospace Physiologist; US air Force Aerospace Physiologist of the Year 2003; Past President Towner-Shafer Society, US Air Force 1993-1994; Retired US Air Force Major

50. Michelle Ederer, MA, RPA-C Past President, New York State Society of PAs

 

The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

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Cris Balamaci PA-C (Shelton, CT) on 21 Apr 2014 at 9:19 am

It's time to wake-up. NP's are surpassing us in every legal venue. A name change is essential in the new phase of the ACA! I am a 1981 graduate, and my diploma states Physician Associate. I concur with my colleague, better yet ....time for the title Medical Pratitioner!! We have far more clinical training hours than NP's, but the general population still thinks NP's have a stronger didactic background than PA's...Let work collaboratively to change this TODAY, LONG OVERDUE!

Harman (Atwater) on 14 Jun 2013 at 12:37 pm

Harman "Associate Physician"

Cris (CT) on 17 Nov 2012 at 9:57 am

I am a1981 PA graduate with my diploma proudly displaying my title as Physician Associate. It's time for a change to a global unity for PA's either as Physician Associate or even better Medical Practitioner!!! I'm so tired of the confusion often made by patients thinking a Medical Assistant is synonymous with PA. Campaign to change our title NOW!!!!

Michael Clark, PA-C,MPAS,Ph.D.,AACC (Fort Worth, Texas) on 21 Apr 2012 at 10:32 am

I am in support of our profession moving forward with a timely and appropriate professional title change. I will also support this effort in the AAPA HOD. After 27+ years of practice, multiple leadership roles at the national and state level, I have seen significant evolution of our practice and our profession. As I have seen our educational process and health care role evolve I believe our PROFESSIONAL title should reflect that growth and status. The "Physician Associate" title most appropriately describes our professional role in the team based practice and retains a well recognized professional identity of "PA". I believe our profession, our colleagues need to take a pro-active first step in moving our professon toward this next evolutionary journey. Interesting I have heard support for this from students to well-seasoned PAs. Please count me in folks!
Best,
Michael Clark

E. Peterson pre-Physician Assistant student (Faifax, VA) on 19 Jan 2012 at 11:15 am

I love the profession and I'm dedicating 4 years of my life to earn my B.S. degree, thousands of hours of my time volunteering at a free clinic, and 3 more years to become a P.A. After all that work, I will have the privilege to practice medicine at a mid-level under the supervision of a physician. There will be no better reward than to know that all my sacrifice, effort, time and money helped me to qualify to be part of a big group of professionals working together to save lives. A scribe is a doctor assistant, any undergrad college student can be called a physician assistant. Any person bringing a piece of paper to a physician can be said to be assisting a physician.

After I fulfill all my education requirements and clinical hours at the hospital, I will be a Physician Associate, not just a mere assistant.

cutiepie (gardiner) on 28 Nov 2011 at 12:06 pm

i am against the name change.

bf09 (OK) on 19 Sep 2011 at 6:52 pm

Why not Associate Physician?

John Plourde (Albany Georgia) on 12 Aug 2010 at 5:32 pm

I am a Neurophysiologist PhD/PA-C and owner of advancedneurodiagnostics. I perform neurointerventional procedures including electromyography and needle guided chemodenervation for dystonia's (Botox) etc. Myself and my company, would put my money where my mouth is and donate a good deal of money to such cause. If we all through enough money at this, and passion, we can bull rush it through without breaking a sweat. Yes I vote name change, where is our society at??? AAPA?? completely lost touch with it's members.

Andrew Anderson MA PA-C (Gainesville, Texas ) on 11 May 2010 at 2:21 pm

I support the name change. I have been a PA for the past 34 years, and have been witness to this being tried before. I also hope it happens before I retire.

Jose C. Mercado, MMS, PA-C (South Florida) on 10 May 2010 at 3:36 pm

I agree, it is time that we have a name that better represents our profession.

Lon Putnam (Bethel Alaska) on 28 Apr 2010 at 11:44 am

I have felt this way ever since I started praticre in this field . I work with not under the MDs in our corporation.This was even more true during the !st Gulf War when the surgeon and I provided care for the Army Post and Airforce base in Fairbanks. It's time for our name to properly reflect out role in the Medical Profession.

Istvan Menyhay, PH.D. (California) on 26 Apr 2010 at 2:00 pm

It is time to take a progressive step forward and assign a name that reflects the nature and is more representative of the profession. "Associate" is the term that faithfully reflects the work and position of the PA.

Monica Howard (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) on 25 Apr 2010 at 7:50 am


Rachel "Bonnie" Hood, PA-C (Winston-Salem, NC) on 23 Apr 2010 at 3:52 am

I support the name change to Physician Associate.

Deval K. Dave (California) on 21 Apr 2010 at 11:16 am

I support the name change "physician Associate"

Clay Shugart, PA-C (North Carolina) on 21 Apr 2010 at 6:48 am

I support name change.

My comment/question concerns priviledges of PAs vs NPs.

Can NPs legally work as NPs without a supervising physician? I have been informed that they can. Is this the case for the "Minute Clinics" that are springing up at drug stores?

Cynthia J Goins, PA-C (Reseda, CA) on 20 Apr 2010 at 6:34 pm

How can we make it so?

Ron Ripple, PA-C (St Petersburg, FL) on 20 Apr 2010 at 5:38 pm

I do support the change to 'physician associate', however, in a quick review, have found at least one major issue that we may face. If one puts physcian associate into google, at least in Florida, several groups of physicians that have a joint practice. Where are we headed? Are we to continue to be in the role in which we are treated as someone who is not practicing providers, as one physician with whom I work? According to him, PA's do not practice medicine. My retort was simply an example that he would therefore be no longer be considered a physician, as he is only an Orthopedic Surgeon. I believe he got the message.

Jens Haerter MSH, PA-C (Ridgefield, Connecticut) on 20 Apr 2010 at 3:53 pm

The change is long overdue, and would bring us into the 20th Century...better late than never.... Indeed, to echo comments made by others, left up the AAPA, the change will never take place.

Theresa L McLaughlin RPA-C (New York City) on 20 Apr 2010 at 1:26 pm

I agree and support the name change of our profession to Physician Associate.
Physicain Assistant does not accurately describe our profession, The name does not express the professional confidence that a patient needs. The name change would benefit the entire medical community on many levels..

Theresa L. McLaughlin (New York City) on 20 Apr 2010 at 1:18 pm

I support the change of the name of our Profession to Physician Associate.

Steven Meltzer, PA-C (Spokane, WA) on 20 Apr 2010 at 12:15 pm

Having graduated from Duke in 1977, I have always preferred the term "associate". However, my certificate hanging in front of me does read: "Physician's Associate" - with the 's!! Just wanted to clarify some of the comments above about the origins of our name. BTW, I do think the title should NOT have the "s.

Laura McKay, APRN, CNM (Savannah GA) on 20 Apr 2010 at 11:45 am

I support the name change for you! Nurse Practitioner or Advanced Practice Nurse at least gives a little clue as to what we do- but still misunderstood! I have trained some PA students in Women's Health as there are very few PAs or supportive MDs in our area to do it- you are clearly well educated and prepared for your clinical practice and nobody's assistant!

Michael McGrath, MPAS, PA-C, MA (Georgetown) on 20 Apr 2010 at 11:03 am

I completed PA training July, 1974 in the U.S.Navy. Didn't like being an "assistant" then, don't like it now. I was an FMF Navy Corpsman In RVN, and sure wasn't an "assistant" to anyone- We saved lives in the field as Corpsman "Doc's" to the Marines.
I was an Independent Duty Corpsman serving aboard US Submarines- I wasn't an "aasistant" then. Someone in their inferior and turf protecting demeanors decided that we were to be an "assistant." when we became PA's. I could tell many stories about those particular individuals, at least in the Navy Medical, and their reasons. The party is over for that group--time to be what the Duke folks, etc. stated in the 60's and that is we are Physician Associate. Go for it, all the way this time.

Stephen Kaminsky, RPA-C (Northport, Long Island, New York) on 20 Apr 2010 at 10:42 am

In my previous life in Marketing & Sales, there's a saying that "words have meaning". In the case of Physician Assistant, the term "Assistant" connotes inferiority, and it is all the customer/patient hears. The name change is well over due.

Jose A. Perez, Physician Associate (Houston, TX) on 20 Apr 2010 at 10:24 am

'nuff said.

Carolyn Roderick (Waterford, CT) on 20 Apr 2010 at 10:04 am

Absolutely!! I am sick of having patients think "you are a nurse that also gets the doctor coffee??...." which is what I've heard before when I told a patient I was a physician assistant. Worse, we are not a personal physician's assistant, but assist the physician community by working in underserved areas, lowering the cost of medical care, and taking care of whole people not just patients. . .associate does implicate this much more. Many physicians are unaware that we are not "physician's assistants" but physician assistants.

Kimberly Lakhan, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA (Duluth, MN) on 20 Apr 2010 at 9:44 am

YES! The time has come to restore our name to Physician Associate. Contrary to what the AAPA has previously said on the issue, the name a profession gives itself does make a very real and important impact (take for example, the change from "Masseuse/Masseure" to "Massage Therapist"). As our profession works to expand our numbers and our presence, first impressions will mean everything. When someone hears "assistant," they think "subservient". When they hear "associate," they think "collegue".

Thank you for reviving this important issue!

Pintu Patel PA-C (San Bernardino, CA) on 20 Apr 2010 at 9:39 am

I agree we should change our title to Physician Associates.

Rene Valiente, PA-C, BHSA (Miami, Fl) on 20 Apr 2010 at 8:04 am

I totally agree about the name change. I'm glad finally it's going to be taken care of; for the good of the profession, our Physician-PA team and the whole Health system. Some patients in my experience, may not say much, but they make another appointment to se the Dr. just to confirm that what has been prescribed or diagnosed is correct. This is frustrating and duplicate services and incurs more expenses and time to all.

Chuck Frampton, MS, PA-C (Binghamton, NY) on 20 Apr 2010 at 6:36 am

I've been a PA for almost 30 years. This is at least the third time the name change issue has occurred. After years of fighting for recognition and acceptance by the licensing authorities, feds and patients I do not understand the desire to change the name of our profession. Change it, and we will then have to explain who we are, what we do, and the reason we felt a need to change the name of the profession. I receive satisfaction from the work I do and service I provide, not from a title. If you believe the name is demeaning, why did you ever pursue this profession?

Melinda Thomas, PA-C (Boston, MA) on 19 Apr 2010 at 10:08 am

I agree with the name change. After 12 years of practice, it is disheartening to have to explain the "assistant" part of our title. Associate does more accurately describe our position and our qualifications. Thanks for revisiting this issue.

Mary Murphy (Denver) on 16 Apr 2010 at 7:26 am

I support the change to Associate. It would have minimal impact and more accurately reflects our role.

Chaska Moore (Atlanta, GA) on 14 Apr 2010 at 7:25 pm

I am also in agreement to change the name. I have practiced as a PA for greater than 10 years. I feel that this new name will decrease confusion of our clients. Frequently they wonder if after seeing an "assistant" will the physician also be seeing them. It is truly a slap in the face. The name physician associate is accurate and will certainly decrease the incidence of clients thinking that we are medical assistants.

Allison L.R. Soward MPAS, PA-C (Barrington Illinois) on 14 Apr 2010 at 6:00 pm

I am so excited to hear that there is a group of people out there that feel the way I do! Our name does nothing to explain what it is we truly do on a daily basis and it is time for a change.

Melody Hof, MPA-S, PAC (Illinois) on 14 Apr 2010 at 11:38 am

It is time for a change, I have dealt with the PA labe as a Physican's Assistant, the ownership the 's inidcates is incorrect but it is constantly shown this way. We are utilized as a professional associate, thru all aspects of our practice.

Kathy Hrycuna, PA-C (Ocala, FL) on 13 Apr 2010 at 5:00 pm

Physician Associate it is !Assistant sounds like a CNA.

Chuck Nagel (Texas) on 13 Apr 2010 at 3:15 pm

I've been in the HOD multiple times when the name change has come up. It's been changed in the past from physician's to physician assistant. As a practicing P.A. for over 34 years I've never liked Assistant or Associate but prefer Associate to Asst. Is there another name out there for us? I'm sure there is. Will this debate go on for another 30 years, I hope not.

George F.(Rick) Hillegas, MPH,PA-C (Knoxville, TN) on 13 Apr 2010 at 12:59 pm

" A rose is still a rose even if you call it by another name". I support our colleagues in thier efforts, but by the time it happens I sadly will be fodder for the cows.

I am disappointed that tail (AAPA) wags the dog (members). How wonderful would it be the other way round!

Continue the good fight, but remember it's the patients not the practitioners that in the final analyis count.

Rex Evans MPAS PA-C (Milford, DE) on 13 Apr 2010 at 12:25 pm

I agree- Physician Associate better describes our role. I am often the sole provider where I work and am expected to provide the same level of care as any of the physcian providers when they are here. I'm often consulted by them for derm issues, suturing, tropical medicine questions.

Nellie Gallegos, PA-C, MSPAS, MPH (Silver City, NM) on 13 Apr 2010 at 8:55 am

One of the best things, when I work with my Spanish speaking patients, is that they refer to me as "Physician Associate" - it is how it is referred to in Spanish. Hispanics make up about 45% of the population in the state of NM. I am rarely asked what my role is when I work with them; however, I have been asked from my English speaking patients what my position is. Needless to say I, too, support changing the name to Physician Associate.

ellen judd (burley idaho) on 13 Apr 2010 at 7:26 am

i've felt we needed a name change since i first started in this profession more that 20 years ago. i call myself a PA, never a physician assistant. it is a demeaning, confusing, and innacurate title. the change can't come too soon for me. people i've known for years still call me a nurse, because our name just doesn't compute. they know i'm more than a nurse,, but not quite a doctor. i don't appreciate the "nurse" name either.

Bruce A Bennett MHS PA-C (Ashfield Massachusetts) on 11 Apr 2010 at 2:16 pm

I fully support the restoration of the name of our profession to "physician associate." That was the name of the profession when I joined its ranks. After 30+ years, it does not get any easier to explain, for the umpteen thousandth time, in the courteous professional manner that we use, that we physician "assistants" are not, in effect, incompetent posers attempting to practice medicine without a license. I don't know if I can bear to hear one more time about how it doesn't matter what we are called, as long as we provide excellent care, and as long as our patients get to know us and our skills. It weighs us down. Let's take this albatross from our necks! Thanks so much for reviving this issue in a potentially useful way!

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