AMA opposes physician assistant name change

The organization says a change to physician associate would further confuse patients.

The American Medical Association (AMA) says that a proposed change from physician assistant to physician associate would only further confuse patients.

In a statement AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, says that the move would leave patients confused about who is providing their care, citing patients’ existing difficulty in identifying who is or is not a physician.

“We believe this latest effort is incompatible with state laws and are prepared to work with interested state and specialty medical societies to address any efforts to implement this title change in state or federal policy,” Bailey says. “… It is also what patients want, which is why clarity in health care titles is so important. That is why the AMA has advocated in support of truth in advertising laws and stands in strong opposition to AAPA’s title change.”

In response to the AMA and other medical organization’s speaking out against the proposed change, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) announced that its House of Delegates had passed a policy affirming physician associate as the official title of the profession.

“We believe that this title more distinctly articulates the role and responsibilities of PAs in continuing to deliver quality healthcare, while reaffirming our commitment to team-based patient care,” AAPA says. “We kept ‘physician’ in our title to demonstrate the value we place on our longstanding relationship with our physician colleagues and our historic roots within the physician community.”