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Statement On The Title Of PA:
A Title To Unite The Profession

November 2013


Over the last three years an attempt was made outside and later inside of the AAPA to look into a change in the professions title. While it would not be a positive step to review recent title change history, it must be noted that two years ago 6,500 PAs or PA students emailed statements regarding this dissatisfaction to the AAPA without response and later an attempt to even establish a committee to study the issue was rebuffed. Later a question on the 2012 AAPA census showed that the majority of PAs nationally favored a title change. Much urban legend unfairly has been saddled with the title change question by PA leaders who are fearful of dealing with something their members want changed. 

PAFT leadership feels that ultimately our profession must remove assistant from our title. Keeping assistant is a yoke we and future generations of PAs should not have to bear. We believe most PAs agree with that sentiment. We feel it is time to act and ask that the AAPA and all states adopt the below plan. Rather than allow this significant problem to continue to divide the profession we also believe it is time for flexibility. We have also heard others who say that it is "not the right time". We disagree but in order to not allow this issue to fester, PAFT proposes a compromise solution to the problem of our title.

In this statement we ask that the AAPA, all of our specialty organizations, our state organizations and PA programs endorse and work towards changing our professional title to the letters "PA" as the descriptor of the profession. We ask that the word assistant be stricken from the educational materials we produce, how we teach our students and how we ask our colleagues to describe themselves. "PA" will evolve to mean a medical care provider who is of high quality who is not a physician. One who does not assist and a name that can be branded, much like MD or RN. This would not have to be done legislatively, but as a cultural change at this point and would start to be a unifying force for all.
We would also ask that as a number of years go by, if a chapter can change their title that they look toward physician associate as the name of the profession, or we move to a total change after appropriate study to something that truly describes our profession and its practitioners such as "MCP" medical care practitioner or possibly health practitioner. 

We do not want this to split our profession and we believe it has the continuing potential to do so. This issue will never go away as "assistant" represents nothing about PAs. As leaders who care about our collective future, we agree that we can not continue being thought of as assistants and realize that there is an alternative available today using the initials "PA". We hope the AAPA and all PA organizations join this movement and support this extended outreach to both unite the profession and to solve this problem. 

PAs for Tomorrow is a  professional organization for all PAs of all specialties.  It represents the future interests of all PAs, providing a vocal core group of PAs committed to seeing the PA profession reach its deserved place among America's health care providers and advocating for their role as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive and patient-centered health care. 

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