Title Change

Title Change Implementation

AAPA is now implementing the May 2021 AAPA House of Delegates policy affirming “physician associate” as the official title of the PA profession. Please see the timeline for the latest achievements and the FAQs for answers to popular questions.

Title change implementation is a complex and intricately interwoven undertaking requiring a thoughtful and well-timed strategy involving a variety of stakeholders – not only other national PA organizations (PAEA, NCCPA, and ARC-PA), PA programs, and AAPA constituent organizations, but also state and federal governments, regulators, and employers. As this process unfolds, AAPA will continue to update PAs and PA students and provide its members high-quality resources, services, and support.

As part of the title change implementation, and per the AAPA House of Delegates policy affirmed in May 2021, AAPA is beginning to roll out the use of “physician associate” throughout our assets and digital properties. Given the numerous platforms and assets to be updated, some temporary inconsistencies in terminology are to be expected. AAPA recommends that PAs refrain from referring to themselves as physician associates in a professional capacity, particularly in clinical settings and with patients. Thank you for your patience as we make these updates.

Title Change Vote

On May 24, 2021, after much debate and discussion, the AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) passed a resolution affirming “physician associate” as the official title of the PA profession by a majority vote of 198 to 68. For more information on the HOD and its responsibility regarding a title change, check out our FAQs.

Updated FAQs

We know you have questions about this extremely complex issue. AAPA has updated the Title Change FAQs to address your questions and concerns about the new professional title. We will update this page regularly, so please bookmark it for easy access.

How Did We Get Here?

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…” To learn more about the Title Change Investigation study, including changes that will need to be made and estimated costs associated with those changes, AAPA members can access the November 2020 Physician Assistant Title Change Investigation Final Report to the AAPA House of Delegates.

Major Milestones

June – July

  • AAPA Board of Directors meets to formally establish support for the will of the House of Delegates
  • AAPA Board of Directors meets with senior management to begin implementation of the HOD title change policy
  • AAPA begins the implementation of title change
  • AAPA informs various external stakeholders of title change
  • AAPA partners with GMMB to begin the profession’s brand development with the goal of presenting the Brand Activation Plan to the AAPA Board of Directors in October 2021
  • AAPA surveys Constituent Organizations to better understand their future plans regarding pursuit of Optimal Team Practice and title change
  • AAPA sends written notification to 19 medical organizations where AAPA has a medical liaison to address the intent of and rationale behind the title change
  • AAPA continues its work with legal counsel to proactively plan for specific challenges and/or concerns
  • AAPA initiates external outreach efforts with representatives of medical organizations, government agencies, employers, payers, and medical boards
  • AAPA conducts meetings with U.S. Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, leaders at the Veterans Health Administration, and leadership from several national healthcare organizations
  • AAPA continues its collaborative efforts with partner organizations PAEA, NCCPA, and ARC-PA


  • AAPA HOD delegates, board members, representatives of PAEA, ARC-PA & NCCPA, and AAPA members debate and discuss proposed resolutions
  • AAPA HOD passes a resolution affirming physician associate as official title of profession
  • AAPA notifies members and nonmembers about title change

Jan – Nov

  • WPP and AAPA meet with TCI Advisory Council
  • TCI final presentations delivered to AAPA House of Delegates and AAPA members
  • Identify financial implications related to title change and AAPA’s responsibilities related to the investigation