Physician assistant title change opposed by American Osteopathic Association

A recent push to change physician assistants' professional title could cause confusion about medical roles and undermine the importance of a physician-led care team model, thereby threatening patient safety, the American Osteopathic Association said May 28.

On May 24, the American Academy of Physician Assistants voted to adopt "physician associate" as the official title for the PA profession. The change comes about three years after the academy hired a healthcare marketing research and branding firm to determine the best title and marketing strategy for the profession.

The osteopathic association recognizes PAs and advanced practice registered nurses' struggle to achieve professional parity, but such efforts should "not be at the expense of the truth in advertising and clarity of roles in our healthcare system," association President Thomas Ely, DO, and CEO Kevin Klauer, DO, said in the May 28 statement.

"Professional credentials, titles and how we convey such information to patients is of great import and not a matter of marketing," they said. "This title change could easily create confusion for patients and put their safety at risk."

The association is calling for "truth in advertising" regarding the use of professional designations for nonphysician clinicians, along with more collaborative discussions on these topics. 

The osteopathic association represents more than 151,000 osteopathic physicians and medical students nationwide.

To view the full statement, click here.

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