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CEO DATELINE – Proposed PA name change draws doctors’ opposition

June 3, 2021

By William Ehart

What’s in a name?

In the medical field, a lot. Now two medical associations are at odds over a move by one of the groups to change the professional title of its members, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

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On May 24, the American Academy of Physician Assistants House of Delegates voted to adopt “physician associate” as the official title for members of the PA profession. The change came about three years after the hiring of a healthcare marketing research and branding firm to determine the best title and marketing strategy for the profession, according to Becker’s.

However, in a brief statement, AAPA said PAs are not to use the new term until legislative and regulatory changes are made to accommodate it.

But the American Osteopathic Association said May 28 that the title change could cause confusion about medical roles and lead to erosion of physician-led, team-based care, threatening patient safety.

“The AOA, and the physicians whom we serve, value the important contributions made to our healthcare system by our non-physician colleagues,” group leaders including CEO Kevin Klauer said in a statement.

“However, it is important to recognize that there is no substitute for the unique and extensive education and training that provides the foundation for physician-level medical decision making.

Efforts to achieve professional parity should “not be at the expense of the truth in advertising and clarity of roles in our healthcare system,” the statement said.