WEST VIRGINIA Bill Would Rename Physician Assistants

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Bill Name: Senate Bill 698 (SB 698)

Primary Sponsor: Senator Tom Takubo

Status: 2/20/2023 Referred to Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources

AmSpa’s Take: While “physician associate” may better reflect the skills and training of these professionals than “physician assistant,” this bill wouldn’t make a practical difference to current PA practice. Many states have been moving toward greater practice independence for PAs, similar to how many states allow nurse practitioners to be independent. It would be more beneficial to PAs if legislators focused on improving PA practice.

Outlook: This bill is in the first steps of the process and, based on the sponsor’s past records, it has a much higher likelihood of passing. The sponsor sits on the committee where this bill was assigned.

Analysis: Currently, West Virginia, as in all other states, refers to the medical license that operates under physician supervision (or collaboration) as “physician assistants” (PA). In 2021, the American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA) voted to adopt the terminology of “physician associate” to reflect the greater education, scope and skills of these health care professionals. We covered some of the background to that vote here.

As noted in the article, this change didn’t have any effect on the actual state terminology: States still issued licenses for “physician assistants.” Along with Oregon, West Virginia seeks to become one of the first states to adopt the “physician associate” title.

The bill itself is rather lengthy, but its effect is to replace the old PA term for the new term in all the places where “physician assistant” occurs in West Virginia’s statutes. Beyond that, it would have no effect on the practicing or licensing for these professionals. If you would like additional information, to read the language of the bill or to contact the sponsors or committee, you can find the information you need through this link.