Vol. 24 Annals of Health Law 328
profession. 391 AAPA policy also provides that whenever feasible, PAs
should be referred to as “physician assistants” and not included with other
providers in comprehensive general terms such as “midlevel practitioner.” 392 The official name of the profession has been fervently debated
throughout its almost fifty year history. 393
Proponents of changing the title of the profession would like to replace
“assistant” with “associate.” 394 Among other reasons, those in favor of the
title change contend that such a modification is reasonable given that in the
early days of the profession, some of the country’s most prominent PA programs were “physician associate programs.” 395 In an era where consumers
and patients are demanding more transparency, proponents also contend
that the title “assistant” is bewildering and deceptive. 396 Those in favor of a
name change believe the current title virtually assures that “physician assistants” will be mistaken for “medical assistants,” and lead patients to conclude that they are receiving lower-level care or that they will subsequently
be evaluated by a physician. 397 Lastly, they cite the fact that as PAs are being asked to take on more responsibilities for patient care, their role has
evolved into more than that of an “assistant.” 398
Alternatively, those who support leaving the title unchanged assert that
there is increasing acceptance by the medical community of PAs, and that
patients embrace PA-provided care irrespective of the name. 399 Further,
393. CardioVision, AAPA House of Delegates Report, APACVS, (Summer/Fall 2012),
available at http://apacvs.org/multimedia/files/journals/APACVS2012Summer-FallCardio
394. See Robert M. Blumm et al., Physician Associate: A Change Whose Time Has
Come, ADVANCED HEALTHCARE NETWORK (April 12, 2010), http://nurse-practitioners-and-
Whose-Time-Has-Come.aspx; See AFPPA Membership Supports PA Name Change from
“Assistant” to “Associate”, supra note 389 (discussing the most recent debate over the official title of the profession in 2012).
395. See John A. Braun et al., The Physician’s Associate— A Task Analysis, 63 AM. J.
PUB. HEALTH 1024, 1024 (1973), available at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/
pdfplus/10.2105/AJPH.63.12.1024 (citing Dr. Eugene A. Stead’s, Jr’s 1965 initiation at
Duke University of the first formal physician’s assistant program which was termed “
physician’s associate program.”).
396. AFPPA Membership Supports PA Name Change from “Assistant” to “Associate,”
supra note 389.
398. Letter from Ass’n of Physician Assistants in Cardiology to Fla. Ass’n of Physician
Assistants, available at http://www.fapaonline.org/files/AAPANameChange.pdf.
399. John D. Trimbath, Is Our Name Really the Issue?, 7 J. AM. ACAD. PHYSICIAN
ASSISTANTS 51, 51-2 (1994) (“Ironically, the nomenclature that was chosen for us represented very little toward gaining our professional recognition. It matter not what we were called,
but how we were used. What played a major role in our success was the means by which we
answered our call to provide cost-effective, high-quality health care services. And because