New Jersey May Restrict PAs' Use of "Dr." Title

A proposal before the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners would prohibit physician assistants with doctoral degrees from using the "Dr." title in clinical settings, according to an NJ Spotlight report.

The board's physician assistant advisory committee said the "Dr." title can cause confusion among patients, who may believe the PAs are medical doctors or doctors of osteopathic medicine, according to the report.

The proposal would also prohibit PAs from using the title on stationary and prescriptions. They could use "Dr." in nonclinical settings, however.

Kevin Walsh, a board member and PA, said the rule would ease confusion and protect PAs, who could be accused of misrepresentation, according to the report. He said there may be malpractice cases in which patients were seen by PAs but thought they were seen by a doctor because the PAs identified themselves as such.

The proposal has earned support from the CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey and many PAs. But some opponents say "Dr." is an academic title, and it should be left to individuals to clarify their professions rather than a state regulation, according to the report.

The State Board of Medical Examiners' executive committee will consider the proposal and may recommend that the full board adopt it at a future meeting, according to the report.

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