Your Top Questions About the Title Change Investigation Survey, Answered

Next Steps in the Title Change Investigation

December 23, 2019
Title Change Investigation
More than 27,000 PAs and PA students took the recent Title Change Investigation survey before it closed on December 9. That included 21,184 PAs and 6,094 students. This is a tremendous number of responses.

As those who took the survey are aware, WPP/Landor developed more than 150 alternative title options. Many were eliminated from consideration following state and federal legal and regulatory investigations, trademark and acronym reviews, and other rigorous research, which resulted in the four options contained in the recent survey.

We recognize there were strong reactions to the names presented in the survey. This was expected. We read your comments on social media and on Huddle. We remained silent when the survey was in the field so as not to influence the responses. Now that it has closed, we want to address some of the questions and comments from PAs and PA students.

The survey was not a vote. The feedback respondents submitted either for or against the presented title options was not a vote. Rather, the data gathered from the survey may be included in or will help inform the final report to AAPA’s House of Delegates in May 2020.

There were invented titles for a reason. These invented titles are a testament to the robust nature of this process. WPP/Landor felt it was important to leave no stone unturned in the Title Change Investigation. As WPP narrowed down the list, the selection criteria dictated that potential titles distinguish the profession from other existing ones, not only for public relations reasons but also for legal/regulatory purposes. For example, Advanced Practice Provider (APP) was initially on the list of 150. But it was determined to be overly broad and a category that already exists to define PAs and NPs working within hospital systems. (There is a reason “Verizon” became “Verizon” and not “Multinational Telecommunications Company” in order to distinguish itself in the marketplace.) 

Actual title identification is one small step in the Title Change Investigation. Many of you commented about the cost of the project as it relates to the names presented in the survey. We want to clarify that the actual title identification is one small part of this overall process and represents a small portion of the overall budget. The bulk of the work thus far has been to understand the current PA brand, requiring extensive qualitative and quantitative research with multiple stakeholders. This critical research has and will continue to inform brand positioning and strategy development.   

We hear you. WPP/Landor has read the more than 11,000 open-ended comments left by survey respondents, many of which included alternate title suggestions. No new title options were revealed that weren’t already identified or eliminated previously. For example, the title “Medical Practitioner” was recommended more than any other title. Other write-in recommendations that were seen most often included Advanced Practitioner and Advanced Practice Provider. All three of these are perfect examples of titles that were eliminated in the review process either due to significant issues identified in legal review or by the fact that they are overly broad and already in use by employers. Overcoming these generalizations to create a new and distinctive professional identity would be nearly impossible. 

Where do we go from here? As defined in the original project scope, WPP/Landor is moving forward to gain impressions of title options through additional quantitative research with physicians, employers, and most importantly – patients. This will enable WPP to analyze all the quantitative data from the validation phase, including the perceptions of PAs, PA students, and external audiences, and to then determine next steps. WPP will prepare its findings in order to report back to the HOD, as directed by the resolution which defined this undertaking.

The PA title is part of the identity of this great profession, and it’s understandable that there are strong feelings regarding a new potential title. However, we must be aware that there will never be 100 percent consensus from PAs regarding proposed titles. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to trust in the process, which is robust and rigorous, and being led by a worldwide leader in market research and branding. We appreciate your enthusiastic participation in this process.

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