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If mistaken for a doctor...

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Okay this is kind of a silly question, but if a PA is working in hospital or clinic or wherever and a patient says, "Thanks, doc!" is it a legal requirement to say, "You're most welcome, but I"m not a doctor."

 

What if a PA is in an informal setting and a friend says, "Hey doctor can you look at this bug bite on my arm?" Must you say each time, "Yes I have lots of medical training and I'd love to look at your arm, but I'm not a doctor. No, I'm not a nurse either. Well, a PA is a person with advanced training that..."

 

What if you are standing in a hospital hallway wearing a white coat and stethoscope and a patient says, "Hey doc, where's the cafeteria?" Must the PA say, "The cafeteria is downstairs, and the elevator is right here, but by the way I'm not a doctor."

 

I'm just trying to imagine a future career as a PA and I'm coming up with some awkward/funny moments because "Physician Assistant" is such a terrible job title. It's so easy to confuse with medical asssitant or nurse assistant, and less recognized than Nurse Practitioner. "Physician Associate" isn't much better, really. Thoughts? (kind of silly, I know)

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Before you treat a patient, it is required that you identify who you are, what you are and what you are there to do. I was mistaken for a doc all the time as a RT. You can correct people until you're blue in the face, but I feel as long as you aren't misrepresenting yourself as a doc, you're fine.

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Pretty much anyone in the army that is in a medical related field gets called "doc." it was cool at first but then gets a little annoying. As above, as long as you aren't trying to present yourself as an MD....

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I'd agree with above.

When seeing a patient I always introduce myself as a PA (a physician assistant). IF they ask what that is I explain.

&

Yes some times they still say thx "doc" even if I do correct them. Mostly the pt replies well close enough.

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Physician Assistant" is such a terrible job title. It's so easy to confuse with medical asssitant or nurse assistant, and less recognized than Nurse Practitioner. "Physician Associate" isn't much better, really. Thoughts? (kind of silly, I know)

do what I do. never say assistant. ever. I am a pa. "assistant" drags us down. I don't assist anyone. most of my shifts I am the only clinician present. I can go months without ever seeing or talking to any of my sp's of record. some probably don't even know that I am assigned to them as in a large group practice the sp is just a name on a form.

if we have any recognition as a profession it is by the initials PA. if someone wants me to explain the job I can do it very well without using the word assistant. I describe my medical training, etc including my prior background and experience and current educational endeavors.

my CV says "Emergency Medicine PA". I am a member of the american academy of pa's and society of emergency medicine pa's, pa's for global health, etc.

they can tell me not to say I am a physician associate(for now). they can't tell me not to say " I am a PA").

as far as "corrections", folks get one. "are you the doctor?" "I am one of the pa's here". "ok, thanks doc.". no correction a second time. my lab coat says PA, my ID says "PA" my scripts say "PA". that + an introduction" HI my name is emedpa, I am one of the pa's here" should be enough. the fact that the term PA means nothing to americans is a failure of public relations.

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do what I do. never say assistant. ever. I am a pa. "assistant" drags us down. I don't assist anyone. most of my shifts I am the only clinician present. I can go months without ever seeing or talking to any of my sp's of record. some probably don't even know that I am assigned to them as in a large group practice the sp is just a name on a form.

if we have any recognition as a profession it is by the initials PA. if someone wants me to explain the job I can do it very well without using the word assistant. I describe my medical training, etc including my prior background and experience and current educational endeavors.

my CV says "Emergency Medicine PA". I am a member of the american academy of pa's and society of emergency medicine pa's, pa's for global health, etc.

they can tell me not to say I am a physician associate(for now). they can't tell me not to say " I am a PA").

as far as "corrections", folks get one. "are you the doctor?" "I am one of the pa's here". "ok, thanks doc.". no correction a second time. my lab coat says PA, my ID says "PA" my scripts say "PA". that + an introduction" HI my name is emedpa, I am one of the pa's here" should be enough. the fact that the term PA means nothing to americans is a failure of public relations.

 

Well said! Thanks, PA!

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I do what EMEDPA does. And everything I wear in a clinical environment has "PA" embroidered on it.

 

If the patient asks what a PA is, I usually start by explaining that some people are just too smart to waste their time in medical school...

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My badge says PA, coat says PA and I intruduce myself as a PA and might correct them once if they call me "doc" depending on the situation.. I refer to myself and my collegues as medical practiotioners (I work with many NP's and MD's- I am the only PA).

 

However, most of my patients only speak Spanish- It's funny, in Spanish the legal translation for our profession is "Asociado Medico" -Medical Associate. Most of my patients don't get it... they wish me luck in my future med school studies and end their consversation by "thank you doctorcita"- (female doctor in Spanish) :D

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I never used to think this way, but as I've had to explain the profession more often as a student I've changed my mind... I agree with EMEDPA about not using the word assistant. Most people who ask what you do or what you're studying are truly interested, but not deeply interested. When you say you're in a physician assistant program, many of them glom onto the word "assistant" and no matter what you say after it, they're thinking of the MA in their doctor's office. If you say PA program, they listen carefully to your description, and in my experience about half of them say something like "but how is that different from a doctor?". Then the conversation goes from there and you haven't set them up to be that patient who insists on seeing "the doctor" for their sore throat.

 

My family and friends jokingly call me doc all the time. I would never correct them because they already know I'm not a doctor and am not going to be a doctor. My PA mentor once told me she only corrects the patients who she really believes are confused about the issue and have the capacity to understand her explanation, or are "difficult" and require constant precision and clarity. It's rather harmless letting most of them call you doc if they aren't going to claim you represented yourself as a physician, or if they forget you were there 10 minutes later.

 

I like CJAdmission's technique, too. Might try that opening salvo next time.

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dude I am an ER tech and definitely don't look old enough to be a doc, but patients ask me all the time if I am their doc. It's kinda funny

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I'm a med-surg tech and I get the same thing depending on what color scrubs I am wearing that day. "Thanks doc..." or, "Are you my nurse?" I wear a badge identifying myself and my title and I always introduce myself when I walk into a room. "Hi my name is Katie and I'm the tech who is assisting your nurse this evening." If they phrase it as a question, i.e. "Can you get my medication?" I explain that I'm not licensed to give out medication as a tech and I will be happy to alert the RN of your request. But if it's an off-hand comment, I generally let it go.

 

The truth is not only do most patients have little understanding of the scope of practice differences between a physician and a PA, they don't know the differences between a physician and a nurse either. Nor a nurse and a tech. And for a few, they don't know the difference between a tech and a physician! Funny how I've never seen a physician wiping someone's butt for them... :;;D:

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