Abbreviations, Acronyms and Titles
The abbreviations, acronyms and titles associated with the physician assistant profession and used in the literature over the past 50 years can be overwhelming and perplexing. As a historic website, we will use the terms and titles cited in the literature of the period.
Glossary & Definitions
In the early years an ‘s was used in the title for PAs – physician’s assistant or physician’s associate. For some, the ‘s conveyed the dependence of the PA on the physician while to others it understated the level of autonomy achieved by PAs in the practice of medicine.
When a number of less rigorous training programs began using the generic term physician assistant for their students and graduates, many of the 2-year PA programs, modeled after the PA Program at Duke University, changed their titles to “Associate.”
Over time PAs have been referred to as new health care practitioners, clinical or health associates, physician extenders, mid-level practitioners, and non-physician health care providers.
In the 1980’s, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) recommended that graduates of AMA accredited programs refer to themselves as physician assistants and that legislation enacted by states use this terminology to reduce confusion.
The terms Physician Assistant or PA continue to be the titles used throughout the profession.