Why is AAPA undertaking a Title Change Investigation (TCI)?

At the May 2018 AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) meeting, a resolution passed requesting that the AAPA Board of Directors (BOD), “contract with an appropriate independent consulting/research firm(s) to investigate state/federal, financial, political, branding aspects, and alternatives to the creation of a new professional title for physician assistants that accurately reflects AAPA professional practice policies…”

What is the goal of the TCI?

The overarching goal of this project is to position PAs to successfully compete in the ever-changing healthcare marketplace by boosting the profession’s relevance and impact among stakeholder groups, especially patients, now and in the future.

How did the AAPA Board of Directors (BOD) respond to the HOD’s resolution about the Title Change Investigation?

In July 2018, AAPA’s Board of Directors, based on a preliminary project plan developed by an external marketing expert, approved initial funding to support an independent investigation of the physician assistant title and potential alternatives.

Will the Title Change Investigation (TCI) result in changing the name of the PA profession?

We don’t know whether the TCI will result in changing the name of the PA profession. This decision will be made by the AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) at the conclusion of the investigation and will be informed by the work of an independent firm(s). This investigation will:

  • Explore whether the current professional title accurately conveys to patients the PA role on the healthcare team
  • Assess stakeholder perspectives on the profession’s current name
  • Establish what is the existing brand rationale for the profession
  • Measure the brand equity in the existing name
  • Develop and explore creative options for changing the name/title of the profession
  • Evaluate the business and legislative impacts/costs (both positive and negative) of changing the name
Does the TCI include the professional title for PAs and similar professions outside the U.S.?

As the American Academy of PAs, we represent PAs in the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories. The TCI has been approached from that perspective.

We have been collaborating with the International Association of Physician Associate Educators (IAPAE) as they have been investigating a title that represents the global PA community. The hope is that through this collaboration, we can agree on a title that works in the U.S. and throughout the world.

IAPAE recently conducted global research of approximately 2,000 PAs worldwide. IAPAE will share the results and its perspective of the global community’s stance on a title change, as well as any plans to initiate a new title.

WPP will consider this information as part of its naming initiative and will also share the validation research and potential titles with IAPAE for consideration.

Additionally, thought will be given to a title solution that is appropriate in both English and Spanish and fits not only the roles and responsibilities of PAs in the U.S. but also the needs of our nation’s diverse patient population.

How is AAPA ensuring that the investigation is independent and unbiased?

AAPA contracted with an expert firm(s) to deliver an extensively researched and wholly unbiased report in alignment with the HOD resolution. 

For more information about the TCI process and timeline, watch this video update from WPP.

NOTE: At the time this video was created, AAPA 2020 in Nashville had not yet been canceled. Currently, the final reports from WPP/Landor and AAPA are delayed due to the response to COVID-19. We will provide status updates on the final reports as they are available. Thank you for your patience.

Watch Here

How much will this project cost?

The total cost is yet to be determined but the AAPA Board of Directors (BOD) has designated an initial investment of up to $1 million.

Does the Title Change Investigation signify a move toward independent practice for PAs?

No, PAs remain deeply committed to team-based care with physicians and other providers.

What key questions is the TCI attempting to address?
  1. Is there a need to evolve the PA brand based on an objective, well-informed, data and analysis-driven view of where it stands today?
  2. And if so, how do we redefine how the PA profession is positioned, how its value is conveyed, and how it is titled to meet the requirements of tomorrow’s healthcare landscape?
How does WPP plan to address these key questions?

To tackle these complex problems, WPP designed a rigorous 5-step learning process.

  1. Discovery & Design: Setting the foundation for success and gaining stakeholder perspectives.
  2. Research & Analytics: Conducting the research that will underpin our strategy development and potential title evolution.
  3. Analysis & Insights: Strategizing around research learnings to inform a decision on potential title change and develop a strategic foundation for the PA brand.
  4. Title Development: Leveraging insights and strategy from previous phase to explore potential new title opportunities, if decided on.
  5. Validation & Implications: Fielding a quantitative survey to validate potential new title and consolidating work in a report for AAPA’s House of Delegates.
When will PAs see the final TCI report presentations?

The PA Title Change Investigation final report presentations from WPP/Landor and AAPA will occur Friday, November 20, 2020, during the AAPA House of Delegates virtual meeting, General Session I, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST. While the virtual session is CME-eligible and open to all PAs and PA students, registration is required. More details coming soon about the registration process and CME.