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K-State Today

July 9, 2021

Physician assistant or physician associate: Information on name change

Submitted by College of Health and Human Sciences

With the recent resolution to change physician assistant to physician associate, the K-State Physician Assistant program will retain the current name and degree. 

On May 24, the American Academy of Physician Assistants House of Delegates passed a groundbreaking resolution affirming physician associate as the official title for the PA profession by a majority vote of 198 to 68. The resolution passed after years of discussion and research, two House of Delegates meetings and several days of deliberation.

This historic decision comes with far-reaching implications and, as seen in the days following the announcement, the potential to be a polarizing topic in the profession. On June 3, the Physician Assistant Education Association sent a poll to all PA program directors to ask about their stance on the title change. The association received a 54% response rate, and the results show that 58% of members favor the title change and 42% do not.

As the results of this poll have shown, there is not a clear consensus among association members at this time regarding the title change.

Regardless of title, the community of PAs and PA educators on the front lines are caring for patients and training the next generation of compassionate, competent providers in the vital work of bringing "health for all" to communities across the nation.

There will be many questions and the new physician assistant program will provide answers as more information becomes available. Until legislative and regulatory changes are made, PAs should refrain from referring to themselves as "physician associate."

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