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The state of Oregon has become the first US state to switch the title “physician assistant” to “physician associate” in the USA.

The American Academy of Physician Associates’ (AAPA) decision to change the meaning of PA from physician assistant to physician associate resonates with the established title used in the UK.
In the UK, the term “physician associate” has been in use since 2014, having changed from physician assistant.

Proponents of the change in America argue that “associate” better reflects the PAs’ role in working collaboratively with doctors, rather than simply assisting them.

However, the debate surrounding the title switch in the US mirrors concerns previously raised in the UK.

Some PAs in the UK have expressed apprehension that the public might confuse “associate” with a business partnership rather than a medical role. Additionally, there’s a worry that patients might still misunderstand the profession, similar to the pre-existing confusion around “physician assistant” in the US.

While the Oregon law doesn’t affect PAs in the UK, it serves as an interesting case study. The UK’s experience with the established title “physician associate” might offer valuable insights into this ongoing debate.

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