AAPA Votes to Change Title Physician Assistant to Physician Associate

Posted on: May 26, 2021

written by

Chris Keeley

Physician Assistants to Become “Physician Associates” – Are You Ready?

This past Tuesday, by a majority vote of 198 to 68, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) House of Delegates passed a resolution to change the name of their medical providers from physician assistant to “physician associate.” The vote came after several hours of deliberation and years of study by an international marketing and communications firm, as reported by the AAPA.

In May of 2018, the AAPA requested WPP, a world leader in fully-integrated healthcare marketing, communications, and research solutions company, to conduct an independent Title Change Investigation (TCI) to decide the best way to market and title the PA profession. The request from the AAPA was designed to give PAs a competitive edge in a growing, changing healthcare marketplace by boosting relevance and the overall perception of PAs from patients.

After concluding that a title change is necessary, WPP delivered their reports to the AAPA’s House of Delegates in November of 2020. Along with the delegates, the meeting included the Board of Directors, Special Observers (PAEA, ARC-PA & NCCPA), PA and PA student members of AAPA. Once the presentation was complete, the audience had an opportunity to ask the WPP representatives any questions they may have about their research.

According to the AAPA, in his introduction to Delegates, AAPA Speaker of the House and Vice President, William Reynolds, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, said: “There is a lot of data to digest, process and apply as you – AAPA’s House of Delegates – return to your respective constituent organizations to begin the next phase of this process, which could culminate in resolutions for consideration at the 2021 House of Delegates. Because this is such an important decision for the profession, I would ask that you take the time and put in the effort needed to make the best decision for the patients we serve. Ultimately, this is not just about us. It is about our ability to serve our patients.”

Now that the title change has been passed, the AAPA Board of Directors will begin discussing ways to implement the new title. In the meantime, the AAPA is requesting that PAs hold off on calling themselves “physician associates” until legislative and regulatory changes are finalized.

We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.


About Chris Keeley

Chris Keeley is the content marketing copywriter and former recruiter at Barton Associates' Peabody, MA, headquarters. Native to the Boston area, Chris joined the Barton team in May 2019 after earning his degree in journalism from Salem State University.

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