Leadership Blog

Key Considerations at the 2021 Annual Business Meeting: Title Change Resolution & Mission Statement Amendment

When the American Academy of PA’s (AAPA) House of Delegates (HOD) passed the resolution affirming “physician associate” as the official title for the PA profession this May, we understood that determining PAEA’s policy on the issue would not occur immediately. Our priority is to offer our members the support, information, and guidance they need to make informed decisions for their programs, students, and the communities they serve.

As a member-led association, PAEA’s Board of Directors is committed to representing and assisting our diverse member programs that have unique perspectives, environments, and needs. To that end, the Board has crafted a Title Change resolution to introduce at the 2021 PAEA Education Forum Business Meeting in October 2021.

PAEA has been closely following the title change process since 2018 when John Burns, PA-C, represented the Association on the HOD title change advisory council. Before the HOD vote took place, PAEA considered the title change concept during two Board meetings and reviewed AAPA’s research from the perspective of students and faculty. We also reached out to institutional leaders and deans and hosted a listening session to inform program directors and hear their perspectives. As PAEA President, I represented your voice in testimony at the AAPA reference committee, reporting that our member programs believed their priority should be creating a diverse PA workforce.

After the vote passed supporting physician associate as the profession’s new title, PAEA conducted a poll to determine our members’ stance on the title change and shared an estimate of the Association’s costs to assist our members and advocate federally for the title change. We recognize some members’ concerns that “physician assistant” does not accurately describe for patients and other stakeholders the full scope of what the profession does and does not convey the value of our profession within the healthcare team and healthcare delivery system.

Based on input from multiple stakeholders, including our members and institutional leaders, the PAEA Title Change Resolution is as follows:

PAEA will support and help guide all member programs through the name change process as state legislatures and accreditors codify the new title of “physician associate” during the transition.

In crafting the resolution, the PAEA Board of Directors were guided by PAEA’s priorities and guiding principles:


PAEA’s mission is at the heart and soul of all we do and every decision we make. We meet our mission by always listening to our members. On June 3, PAEA sent program directors a poll asking about their stance on the title change. The response rate was robust (54%); the results indicate that 58% of our respondents favor the title change and 42% do not. While there is no clear consensus among our members regarding the title change, our members expressed the need for continued information and guidance on title change updates.


Partnership is a foundational part of being a PA. At PAEA, we deeply value our relationships with physician partners. The founder of the PA profession was a physician, and physicians have always played a vital role in developing the PA profession and training and supporting PAs. PAEA leadership believes that trust between a patient and their medical care team begins with understanding each provider’s role on the team. We believe it is vital for PAs to continue partnering with physicians and their broader healthcare teams to offer collaborative, compassionate care.

Codification of Physician Associate

Although associations and PA programs may change their titles and names, codifying language enacted through state and federal legislation is where the change is operationalized and put into practice. It is critical that as these efforts move forward and allowances are made for a transition from the title “physician assistant” to ensure that all past and current graduates can seek licensure and credentials without restriction.

Engaging Students

Students are the future of our profession. Aligning with our vision of “Health for All” in communities across the nation, we recognize the vital role that students will play in the PA profession for decades to come. Through outreach to programs and monitoring social media, we have found that students seem to support the title change. Throughout this process, we have considered their interests and needs and believe that this resolution reflects their perspective as the future of the PA profession.

A Forward-Facing Mission Statement

In addition to the Title Change motion, PAEA will also bring forth a proposed amendment to the PAEA Mission Statement. We have heard our members’ calls for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the PA profession. Accordingly, PAEA has held these principles at the center of all our member resources and offerings. To reflect this commitment, PAEA has proposed an amendment to our mission, “Leadership, innovation, and excellence in PA education:”

The Mission Amendment is as follows:

Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion.

Join Us at the 2021 Annual Business Meeting

These are just two topics that will be discussed during the 2021 Annual Business Meeting. We hope you will join us at the Business Meeting on Friday, October 15, from 10:00–11:30 a.m. ET, which will take place during the PAEA Education Forum.

View the Full Business Meeting Agenda and Materials

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