From Physician Assistant to PA


from AAPA

Discussions about the title of the PA profession are almost as old as the profession itself. In recent times, the issue has been debated at the House of Delegates (HOD) at least three times since 1998, including at the 2012 HOD, when a proposal to create a taskforce to consider the issue was ultimately voted down, and again in 2015. Numerous editorials have laid out arguments on all sides. But one thing that almost all PAs have always been able to agree on is that they are, well, “PAs.” And over the nearly 50-year course of the profession, the term PA has become widely recognized in the healthcare community and by patients.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

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  1. 1
    Charles Lewis

    My certificate (Duke 71) reads Physician’s Associate. Shortly thereafter, we became physician’s assistants. Some genius decided that the apostrophe was too clumsy, since it could be placed in front of or after the s.. In front of would refer to the individual and after referred to the collective. Most of the assaults in those days came from from without rather than within the profession (physicians and nurses). We were slammed by physicians and nurses alike for not having degrees. Then came the firestorm of criticisms about the type of program from which one graduated (Type A, B, or C). This brought about the next set of committees that decided that we should drop the apostrophe and all become physician assistants . The Armed Forces from whence most of us came in the early days did not yet have such a creature. My class became the lab rats for the tri-service committee to study.
    Who would have thought that after a mere 50 years, someone would come up with the idea of dropping most of the letters from our name? This probably would not have worked in the 1960s. Maybe the time is right. This is how most of us sign our names on various types of correspondence.
    Charles C. Lewis, DHSc, MPH, PA

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