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PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:28 am
by buffchic
So let's play the name game.
Does anyone out there have opinions about whether PAs are best called physician assistants or physician associates?

It seems to me that as we advocate for our profession and strive for a definition that is meaningful to the public and our patients that unity on this topic would be desirable.

I wrote a blog post on this very topic. Have a look. http://pawannabe.blogspot.com/2012/02/n ... is-pa.html

Cast your vote in my informal poll.

And share your thoughts here!

PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:40 pm
by Oscaroso
Def. in favor of a move forward into Physician Associate.

Physician assistant sounds too close to medical assistant.

PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:14 pm
by PaulK
With any luck I will be posting a letter to readers by one of the leaders in the field who is putting forward a proposal to allow each PA to decide if they prefer to be called a physician assistant or a physician associate. I\'m not a big fan of physician associate, but I think that this proposal is a little more appealing. What do you guys think? What could be some of the less obvious or unexpected consequences of providing the option for PAs to go by either as they choose? Do you think that these could still be worth the change?

PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:29 am
by buffchic
Paul-
That sounds interesting, I look forward to reading this \"letter to readers.\" I had not heard of an initiative to allow PAs to choose between physician assistant and physician associate. Certainly, an interesting option.
Wondering if it would cause confusion for patients and the public for both terms to be used concurrently?

I would like to hear your thoughts on why you prefer physician assistant? I fall into the physician associate camp--but as always I\'m open to new thoughts and ideas.

PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:47 pm
by PaulK
Yes, I think it could cause confusion to patients. Add to that the (lesser known) controversy around NPs and PAs with doctorates calling themselves Dr., and you have a fine mess.

I think my problem with physician associate is that the term associate is even less descriptive than assistant. I\'m not really fond of assistant either, since it\'s not a very accurate description of what PAs do. But I\'m guessing we\'ll only get the chance to change the title once, so we better wait until we have a good alternative to physician assistant. And for me, associate isn\'t it.

I can, however, definitely understand why no one would be super jazzed about being an assistant.

PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:00 pm
by Ana
Ok, here is my problem. I am a pre PA, still taking pre requisites, still working on better HCE other than the CNA. So one could think that\'s not much of my problem. But the medical assistant in the office of the company I work for said: \"So you are going to school because you want to be a Physician Assistant? Oh, I am a medical assistant too.\" And there I was explaining the difference. It actually happens a lot. I agree with Paul about the Physician Associate not being so descriptive, but it would be at least distinctive. My vote goes to Medical Practitioner, but I guess people really want to maintain the PA, instead of a MP.

PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:17 pm
by PaulK
It\'s a good point.

I don\'t like comparing PAs to NPs, but sometimes, it makes the role more clear to those who don\'t get it. Most people understand what an NP is. The PA in my clinic uses this comparison all the time. Because, yes, part of being a PA is explaining the inevitable questions like: \"So you\'re a PA now - when do you become a doctor?\" as if becoming a PA is part of the training/education of a physician (it definitely isn\'t).

Lately I\'m growing more fond of the term medical practitioner, which comes close to the role for me. In the clinic, the word practitioner is only used with MDs, PAs, and NPs. It describes the role, and there aren\'t other allied health occupations that use the term (there aren\'t respiratory practitioners or emergency medical practitioners, at least by title).

Whatever name is given to the PA profession, remember that it will always (at least in our lifetimes) require some explanation. Doctors have been around for millennia - PAs have only been around for about 40 years.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:18 am
by Carl
Instead of replacing Assistant with Associate I was thinking Physician Auxiliary may fit better. To me "Auxiliary" means "in place of" but just as competent.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 4:28 pm
by Pearl.4
How about Physician Extender? :)

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:54 am
by PaulK
Physician Extender says a little more about what PAs do, but I'm not a big fan of it because it speaks of what PAs do only in reference to what doctors do, and in practice, there's plenty that PAs do that doesn't involve the doctor. But it's more accurate that the current title, in my opinion.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:35 am
by bob28
Oscaroso wrote:Def. in favor of a move forward into Physician Associate.

Physician assistant sounds too close to medical assistant.
I agree, Physician Assistant sounds just like a medical assistant who hardly has any serious work in assisting the medical practioner. Physician Associate sounds much better.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:26 am
by GTouch69
IMO, Physician Assistant still is the better name, (if it is not broken, don't fix it) because Physician Associate sound like it holds the same authority as a doctor. PA is not a doctor, it could confused the public even more with many new advanced degrees, title, etc., coming out in the past decade.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 6:45 am
by jstokes07112
In the military we use rank to determine things:

For example: You have a Colonel and a Lt. Colonel. Both pretty much do the same job, but have different rank and recognition. They both can do the same job, just one is higher than the other.

So in the case of Doctor and PA - they could something such as

Doctor for Doctor
and for the PA - Lt. Doctor?

I realize that a PA doesn't do everything that a DR does however they act as a DR.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:58 pm
by TheLou
"Lately I'm growing more fond of the term medical practitioner, which comes close to the role for me. In the clinic, the word practitioner is only used with MDs, PAs, and NPs. It describes the role, and there aren\'t other allied health occupations that use the term (there aren't respiratory practitioners or emergency medical practitioners, at least by title)."

I just want to elaborate on your idea, which I think is a great one. I, too, think practitioner should be in the title. How about Associate Practitioner? Or Certified Practitioner? Or Clinical Practitioner?

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:17 am
by KatyCot15
I really like the way the military can simplify things sometimes. I would love to be a Lt. Doctor. I agree that a name change could be great for the profession. Nurse Practitioners carry the name practitioner, I think medical practitioner, MP is the best idea. Physician Associate is nice and sounds very distinguished but also sounds like a medical partner, relating to business instead of medicine. Off hand I can't think of associate being used in any other professional clinical title. We are going through a name change at the Community Health Center where I work as an EHR medical scribe. As our role has expanded to direct patient contact, we may be changing our name to clinical assistant. Many of us are preparing for PA school ourselves but dislike the word "assistant" already.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:11 am
by DonnaE
Greetings All,
I have not heard any really great reasons against using the 'Associate' title for the PA professional. Katy made the comment that it sounded more like a business connection to the MD than a medical one. Its really both, and most realistically, it is business. The relationship is that of business, the business of medical providers associated with one another in a cooperative role. We, as PAs, work along side of MDs, sometimes assisting them - according to specialty - but mostly in association with them. I think the 'Associate' title gives a better definition because we have an association with the MD agreed upon when entering the profession. We are always going to be working in conjunction with the MD who shares the responsibility of the work being done, as an associate would in business or in medicine.
Also, if I understand correctly, in Mexico the title for PA IS 'Asociado Medico' - the associate doctor ( which I use when working with the Spanish speaking patient).
Hey, plus we wouldn't have to change the acronym! Bonus!
Thanks for the forum Paul.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:49 pm
by perico
I noticed that in the site http://www.pawannabe.com/2012/02/name-g ... is-pa.html they show a T-shirt that says: "Behind every good doctor is a great physician assistant".

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has no knowledge of what a PA is, or doesn't understand it. If they hear "Medical Assistant" or "Physician Assistant" it pretty much sounds the same to them.

Now, change the title to Physician Associate. That delivers a whole new perspective. An associate is like a "peer" or a "colleague". Yes, a PA is not an MD, but they ARE professional medical people. An associate is definitely a professional who can do advanced medical diagnosis and in some cases, more than that. An "assistant" is more like a medical secretary or scrub nurse. They help, but they don't practice medicine.

Therefore, my vote is for Physician Associate or Physician Practitioner. I prefer the former, though. The AAPA should make it happen, soon!

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:29 pm
by lapaix
Physician Associate is great. It talks more about collaboration than assisting. "Assistant" really doesn't make sense in explaining the role of a PA. Doctors and PAs are both competent physicians who can collaborate in the work field.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:00 pm
by vvrl
What about Physician Attendant?????? I like the profession of PA's but I dislike the assistant term since they do much more than being assistant.

Re: PA: Physician Assistant OR Physician Associate

Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:23 pm
by lapaix
Yes, I like the use of 'associate doctor or physician'. May be use physician instead of doctor. I think the public assumes 'doctor' means MD or some doctorate level profession. I think Associate physician is good too.