PAs Vote to Investigate Changing Their Professional Title

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NEW ORLEANS (May 22, 2018) — At the annual conference of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), members of its House of Delegates voted to investigate the feasibility of changing the PA (physician assistant) title, along with potential alternatives that better reflect modern PA practice.

“PAs did not vote to change our professional title; we are simply going to explore alternatives that may better communicate our role to patients in today’s healthcare environment, as well as the practical implications of implementing a potential change,” said L. Gail Curtis, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, president and chair of AAPA’s Board of Directors.

PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. PAs practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality over its more than 50-year history. PA practice has grown and the original one-PA-to-one-physician configuration has given way to a wide variety of collaborative arrangements.

The resolution specifically requests that AAPA’s Board of Directors contract with appropriate independent consulting or research firms to investigate state and federal, financial, political and branding aspects of a potential change along with alternatives to the physician assistant professional title.

“PAs remain deeply committed to team-based care with physicians and other providers,” Curtis continued. “The passage of this resolution should not be interpreted as a move toward independent practice; rather, it’s an opportunity to consider if our current professional title accurately conveys to our patients the PA role on the healthcare team.”

The exploration of a professional title change will involve gathering input from a variety of external stakeholder groups and is expected to take at least a year. A report will be delivered to AAPA’s House of Delegates in May 2019.


About the American Academy of PAs
AAPA is the national organization that advocates for all PAs and provides tools to improve PA practice and patient care. Founded in 1968, AAPA represents a profession of more than 123,000 PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories and the uniformed services. Visit to learn more.