American College of Radiology opposes rebranding physician assistants as ‘associates’

The American College of Radiology and other doc groups are voicing opposition to rebranding physician assistants as “associates,” concerned the move could cause confusion among patients.

Late last month, the American Academy of PAs’ House of Delegates passed a resolution, officially designating “physician associate” as the profession’s preferred term. The 198-68 vote followed hours of deliberation and years of study by an international marketing and communications firm, according to an announcement.  

ACR, the American Medical Association, and the American Osteopathic Association, however, are against the decision.

“The physician assistant title accurately reflects the training of these professionals and their role in any physician-led team. Any change would lead to confusion among patients as they make important healthcare choices,” the college said Monday, June 7. “Radiologists are uniquely trained and qualified—even among physicians—to provide radiologic care. The ACR actively opposes supervision or interpretation of radiological exams or procedures by nonphysician providers,” it said, adding that it supports the role of the registered radiology assistant—which does not include imaging interpretation or supervision.

In its own statement, the American Medical Association said the name change is “clearly an attempt” to move the PA profession toward independent practice. They’re prepared to work with other medical societies to thwart adding this new verbiage into state or federal policy.

“Given the existing difficulty many patients experience in identifying who is or is not a physician, it is important to provide patients with more transparency and clarity in who is providing their care, not more confusion,” the nation’s largest doc group said June 3.

The American Academy of PAs said its board will now begin discussions to implement this name change. They urged members to hold off until the new title is incorporated into legislation.

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