In 2021, the American Academy of PA’s House of Delegates voted to change the title of the profession. The voted policy was to change the word “assistant” to “associate.” The change did not come easily or with little consideration. In fact the idea of title change has been debated off and on for many years. In 2018, the House of Delegates voted in favor of the AAPA Board of Directors to implement an unbiased, independent research effort to determine if a title change is appropriate for the profession.
The world renowned firm, WPP, was hired to conduct the research. Overwhelmingly it was noted that the word “assistant” does not accurately reflect the PAs role in the healthcare system, and causes confusion, especially among patients and other non-healthcare providers. By returning to “associate,” which was a previous title for the profession, it would more accurately reflect the role of PAs in healthcare, as well as maintain a historical connection to physicians, who initially developed the profession.
ConnAPA representatives took part in the 2018 and 2021 House of Delegates conversation. The process of title change will be a slow one, as each state needs to implement the change in various ways. It is widely recognized that uniformity among the profession is best. In Connecticut, “physician associate” is not a new title, as the Yale PA Program has a long history of graduating physician associates. ConnAPA will be convening an ad hoc committee in 2022 to determine how and when to best implement a title change.
For more information on the title change effort, consider reviewing the AAPA’s resource page here.