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SDPA Membership Ratifies Name Change and Embraces “Associate”


SDPA President Laura Bush DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, shares exciting news about the name change as the Summer Conference begins to wind down.

This week the membership of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) ratified a name change, embracing the name Associate to be more reflective of the work they do. The change mirrors that of the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA).

In an exclusive video from the 2024 SDPA Annual Summer Dermatology Conference, SDPA President Laura Bush DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, shared the news of becoming the Society of Dermatology Physician Associates with Dermatology Times.

AAPA delegates resolved that physician associate should be the official title for the profession in May 2021, indicating that the PA’s role goes beyond merely assisting physicians. The AAPA worked to present the change to their greater voting body, who recently ratified that change.

The change is literally sweeping the nation. Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed a bill in April officially changing the title in that state; the new law took effect on June 6, 2024.1

PAs in Oregon and other states won’t be able to use their new title until state and federal medical boards establish regulations and guidance regarding the role. AAPA has advised clinicians to use physician assistant as their official legal title when working with patients and in other professional settings until the medical boards. Similarly, the new title will not change clinicians’ scope of practice.

SDPA reviewed and revised their bylaws to enact the change, which was ratified unanimously by membership on June 7, 2024 at the conference.

“The name change doesn't change anything we do or any way we practice. We are still derm PAs,” Bush told Dermatology Times. “The name change was voted on by our our members, and they felt that physician associate more embraced what we did on a day-to day-basis rather than the word assistant.

“As we're wrapping up this Summer Conference for the SDPA, the vibe is good,“ Bush added. “Everybody is excited, pumped up about the profession, and things went very well. We had a lot of first time attendees as well as Emerging Scholars, which are younger PAs, as well as seasoned PAs, so we had a lot of mentorship going on.”

“Our society is growing and vibrant and we just wanted to bring it into a modernized era,” she said.


1. AAPA. Title change general. FAQs. Accessed June 9, 2024. https://www.aapa.org/title-change/general-faqs/

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