The phrase physician associate does little more to define how we practice than the term physician assistant. I am in full support of a name change but only if it accurately reflects the profession and how we practice.
The nurse practitioners got it right. An NP is a practitioner of nursing. The description is plain and simple with no room for confusion. In that spirit, I suggest the term medical practitioner. This eliminates all misunderstanding and confusion.
Patients expect us to practice the standard of care, and that is exactly what we do. If we have questions, we seek out a physician, administrator, or even a lawyer for guidance. It’s a great profession and really no different than how a physician practices in this regard. This should be a comfort to PAs and physicians alike, but since we are not physicians, we should eliminate the term from our title. But let’s get it right this time and quit trying to say the same thing in a different way. We need to project a clear understanding of who we are and what we actually do. Either change the name to a title that is accurate or drop the rhetoric and put the time and money to better use. The discussion has gone on long enough already.—William B. Mosher, PA-C, Ann Arbor, Mich. (143-16)