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So I was reading Medscape this morning and something caught my attention. According to Travis Singleton (?, see medscape physician compensation report), PAs are non-physician clinicians. This statement triggered a 2-minutes identity crisis with rapid resolution after further investigating the meaning of the word physician. 

What is a physician? Per Dictionary.com, physicians are those who are "qualified to practice medicine... a person who cures moral or spiritual ills; a healer." Per Merriam Webster, physician is:

1: a person skilled in the art of healing specifically : one educated, clinically experienced, and licensed to practice medicine as usually distinguished from surgery
2: one exerting a remedial or salutary influence

PAs practice medicine, are skilled in the art of healing; therefore, they are physicians. Are they medical doctors? No, they do not have a doctorate degree. 

 

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physician = MD/DO.  So no, I'm not a physician and I don't have an identity crisis about it

 

Edited by MT2PA
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27 minutes ago, MT2PA said:

physician = MD/DO.  So no, I'm not a physician and I don't have an identity crisis about it

 

Who was the first physician in history? Was he/she a MD/DO? 

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The way we understand the word physician in the United States, in addition to the definitions you cite, is referring to a specific profession. Professions are self regulating, and they get to define the standards for entry, which is an MD/DO degree, passing the USMLE or COMLEX exams, and successful application for licensure. Just like we define our standards for entry: completion of an ARC-PA accredited program, passing the PANCE, and successful application for licensure. 

 

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Per Abe recommendation, legal definition of physician: 

§ 702.404  Physician defined.

The term physician includes doctors of medicine (MD), surgeons, podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, and osteopathic practitioners within the scope of their practice as defined by State law. The term includes chiropractors only to the extent that their reimbursable services are limited to treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation shown by X-ray or clinical findings. Physicians defined in this part may interpret their own X-rays. All  physicians in these categories are authorized by the Director to render medical care under the Act. Naturopaths, faith healers, and other practitioners of the healing arts which are not listed herein are not included within the term “physician” as used in this part.

[42 FR 45303, Sept. 9, 1977]
 

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You're right literally/technically, just not figuratively. Doctor, and physician doesn't necessarily mean MD/DO, however, in practice we know what physician or doctor means. This is as simple as it becoming common use after really what was a hijacking of a somewhat general term. It would have probably been more correct that they call themselves MD's, or DO's all this time, or some other proprietary term, rather than a general term, but that's where we are at. In appealing to tradition, but really, just to avoid confusion among patients I don't think we should start using the term, even if it is technically true.

As a huge addendum to this, it really calls into question the name of our profession. If the previous is true, then why is Physician's Assistant not accurate? Why do we get so up in arms about the possessive s? Does Physician assistant imply that we are indeed physicians, just assistant physicians? If this is true, then we definitely need a name change by MD/DO's logic that we are "non-physician providers". And if the prior is true, that we are actually just Physician's Assistants, then that is simply inaccurate by virtue of our job description, or at least many of ours.

In conclusion, while we should respect the term physician, we shouldn't be afraid of any of the kickback in pursuing the name change. We also shouldn't be afraid of any kickback of the term 'provider' 'clinician' 'medical practitioner', etc. It's ridiculous that any name besides assistant is unacceptable to many in the physician community. Nurse's don't have this same problem; nowhere in their title is the word assistant. We need to find our identity as a field, and that is not as assistants. Medical assistants already have that identity.

 

Edited by d-wade
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This guy must be a troll. Is it possible to delete this thread before outsiders get a hold of this?

If you define yourself as a physician, you are a detriment to our profession and you will only add more strife between us and physicians. No one cares about what the dictionary defines a physician as. Our society deems a physician as an MD/DO and that's how it should be. Do we need a name change? Sure, but you are a few cents short of a dollar

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We are not physicians. We provide the same level of care, but we are distinctly differently. I am not them, and don't want to be them. To say that we are physicians is disingenuous. I think its equally wrong for podiatrists, ODs, chiros, or other to call themselves physicians as well. 

As far as using the title doctor, I am not as staunch on this stance. Personally I don't think anyone should use it since it does not denote what you do, no one should be able to have a legally restricted educational title that anyone can earn, and honestly I think it's pompous when you meet those people that insist on people called doctor, whatever their job. My mother did this and it was so embarrassing when she would correct people.

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19 hours ago, SoCal_PA said:

This guy must be a troll. Is it possible to delete this thread before outsiders get a hold of this?

If you define yourself as a physician, you are a detriment to our profession and you will only add more strife between us and physicians. No one cares about what the dictionary defines a physician as. Our society deems a physician as an MD/DO and that's how it should be. Do we need a name change? Sure, but you are a few cents short of a dollar

This...one might wonder if they're actually an Agent Provocateur vs someone who now wishes they went to medical school and has an inferiority complex.  Let's hope that they're not wandering about passing themselves off as a "physician" on their LinkedIn profiles, business cards, etc.

5 hours ago, LT_Oneal_PAC said:

. My mother did this and it was so embarrassing when she would correct people.

We must be related...I had a laugh when a physician colleague of mine wandered up to me when they were looking after my mom and said "I didn't know your mother was a doctor"...I said "yes, of Canadian History".  

 

SK

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I think the OP was just making a point rather than trolling or provoking or being insane like the majority have suggested. 

While it's clearly not a name any other than an MD/DO should utilize, per definition it applies. If you realize, at no point did the OP say "Hey! Let's call ourselves physicians in the workplace!"

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21 minutes ago, MediMike said:

I think the OP was just making a point rather than trolling or provoking or being insane like the majority have suggested. 

While it's clearly not a name any other than an MD/DO should utilize, per definition it applies. If you realize, at no point did the OP say "Hey! Let's call ourselves physicians in the workplace!"

I tend to agree as well.

 

23 hours ago, SoCal_PA said:

This guy must be a troll. Is it possible to delete this thread before outsiders get a hold of this?

I think reasonable people will understand that a "profession" is a broad swath of individual perspectives, and that on the Internet you're going to get a correspondingly broad representation of opinions, from the ridiculous to the sublime.  There exist forums that are edited for content rather than just conduct, and there are non-pseudonymous forums as well--Huddle is both, for example.  The reason this site hasn't been eclipsed by Huddle, in my opinion, is that we do allow just this sort of relatively outrageous discussion. I'd rather have full and free debate than "hide" certain opinions as too outrageous to see the light of day: this is a forum where trolls have and do pose as PAs, NPs, or other health professionals in order to maximize feces agitation, and that's one of its drawbacks.

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It is just an exercise in semantics. I don't think anyone is trolling. And yes.... I steer people here from the HUDDLE frequently just because it is a bit looser and more interesting. I was going to volunteer to be a mod until I found out there is no clubhouse or secret handshake. 🙂

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15 hours ago, d-wade said:

Your stance on the title doctor could easily be applied to the word physician though, could it not? These are general terms that were co-adopted/hijacked by MD's, and DO's to mean MD or DO... instead of just stating, "I am an MD" or "I am a DO" which would be more accurate.

Physician definition:

a person who is legally qualified to practice medicine; doctor of medicine.
a person engaged in general medical practice, as distinguished from one specializing in surgery.
a person who is skilled in the art of healing.

All of these apply to us. The only reason not to use it is precedence and to avoid confusion, which I agree with. The same could be easily be applied to doctor.

No it couldn’t be applied both ways, at least legally, which is what I’m arguing. You’re arguing apples and oranges. I should not be able to legally prevent others from saying mister, but I can legally stop people from calling themselves PA. Physicians may have taken their terms, but that doesn’t matter now. They have it written in legal documents that others can’t use it, same way we have legally protect physician assistant, which I’m sure plenty of people used prior to our inception. While we meet some oxford definition of physician, what matters is legal statutes. This is why medical practitioner title change is probably not going to fly, much as I would like it too, because it’s too broad and can’t be legally protected. Physicians actually can’t legally protect the term doctor in the clinics setting, but they have managed to slide into NP and PA legislation in a few states that these specific professions can’t.

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No, I'm not a troll. 

Yes, I was just trying to make a point. 

No, I don't have identity crisis. I was trying to be funny. Good thing I never tried being funny for a living. 

First let me be clear: In the real world, I do not even let my patients call me "DOC" because I do not have a doctorate degree. I never said that we should call ourselves physicians. I do understand the casual use of the term physician by others other than a MD could mislead patients. 

Now my two cents: 

Think again: Per legal definition (which was written in 1977 btw), even clinical psychologists are considered physicians. Why not PAs or NPs? Is the term physician so "SACRED" that it could not be applied to us? Or maybe we are not really practicing medicine? We are just playing doctors maybe? 

Not really!  YOU WORK AS A PHYSICIAN and the outdated definition of physician should be updated to reflect that you also practice medicine! 

What do you think if we have something like this:

The term physician includes doctors of medicine (MD), surgeons, podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, osteopathic practitioners, physician assistants and nurse practitioners within the scope of their practice as defined by State law. 

If we want to remove the requirement for PAs to have a relationship with a CP in order to practice medicine, we better see ourselves as physicians as well. 

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This thread by somebody who obviously made a wrong career choice.  He/she wanted to be called "physician" or "doctor" but for some reason chose the PA route instead.

My advice -- drop PA and go to med school.  It's obviously something you've been perseverating about for a long time to try this road of justification.  

Why torture yourself?  You'll be much happier if people can call you "doctor" or "physician" so it's obvious to us you made a bad career choice.

I'm happy to be a PA.  I don't need to be called a "physician" to appreciate my career and the good I do helping patients.  

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