The title of this article is an echo of Shakespeare but let me assure you that today’s theme is not about Romeo and Juliet. The title question put forth has a very significant meaning to all people regardless of nationality, culture, ethnicity, or religion. A person’s name – any person – is the greatest connection to their identity and their individuality. Its importance cannot be underestimated if we are speaking of a profession, a practice, a company, corporation, or of an individual itself. Think of names such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, or presidents such as Lincoln, Roosevelt and Washington. Their names speak immediately to their contributions and historical significance to our society.
Over the last twenty-five years, we [physician assistants] have been either delighted with the name of our profession or have despised it for its misinterpretation by patients, administrators, and physicians. PAs are very opinionated, and, regardless of what we call ourselves, we will never reach a consensus.
We have agonized over the issue of our name. Perhaps we should, rather, have joined the group that will legislatively assist us in finding a compromise that makes us all satisfied, if not happy. AAPA commissioned a marketing/branding national group to investigate this issue and their input was based on speaking to all the stakeholders in the medical profession as well as the general public and the name chosen was Medical Care Practitioner. They asked America and America voted but nothing will be official until the next meeting of the AAPA. I mourn the loss of associates but realize that it was not the best description of what we do as professionals.
A PA-Student, Mr. Scott Burns, commented on Ten Arguments for MCP and had this to say: “More PAs want to be called physician associates right now. That’s a fair point, but PAs already know what we do, the purpose of a professional title isn’t meant for those in the field, it’s meant for those outside of the field to understand what that profession is. Patients, physicians, and employers all thought Medical Care Practitioners made more sense and made them more likely to recommend us. We have to put our patients, lawmakers, and employers ahead of our personal preferences to have the most effective title to move forward as a profession.”
This young man will probably be a leader in the PA profession in the next ten years because he is a thoughtful and patient person who has the power of reason and not the emotional baggage that some of us have after being PAs for ten, twenty and thirty years or more.
So, returning to our question: “What’s in a name?” We spend months deliberating on this as we name our children. I received an email from the Golden Doodles Facebook member begging for input on naming a new puppy! What’s in a name when you are choosing your medical malpractice insurance or making the decision that you will purchase personal medical liability insurance coverage? Astute PAs and NPs will need to observe malpractice weather conditions. Who is being included or excluded in legal actions and are they dependent or independent practitioners? What is their experience, their training, their certifications, and their malpractice history with NPI? When concerned with treating COVID 19 patients, have they been trained in this through experience, or are they being “floated” to the area that is most needy without prior exposure to the care and treatment of this special patient? Do these patients deserve more than hospitals are presently providing? Do we have PPE? Are we bringing this virus home to our families and friends? Are we reporting to duty when we are sick or not fully recovered because it is expected of us? Do we have an obligation to the patient to give the newest treatment modalities? If questioned by an attorney on malpractice litigation two or three years from now, would we look ill-prepared? Do we have a quality, comprehensive policy that will be able to defend us based on years of healthcare experience and previous cases litigated?
Who is the best professional liability insurance provider in the malpractice landscape? In my honest opinion, it is a company with the highest A.M. Best rating which can be easily found online. It is a company that can underwrite coverage in all fifty states and has a long history of protecting its valued customers. It is a company that does not “cherry-pick” their clients by profession or time in the field and has no restrictions on their specialty. Did you know that some of the “new” companies do not cover every specialty? Did you know that some of these companies will not cover a surgical PA in NY? You need a company that does not look for the most profitable practitioners or the practitioner with the lowest risk. You also need to be aware of the types of policies that they provide and why one might be preferable to another for your situation.
I write every article with the same focus and purpose; I try to discuss new issues or talk about a treatment that we need to be familiar with – and then consider its liability potential and risk exposure for PAs. Then, naturally, the very real need for malpractice protection. I’m being upfront about this because I am concerned about the careers and financial safety of all PA and NP providers. Quality PA Professional Insurance is important to understand, easy to get, and provides the stable and individualized protection your career demands.
By Robert M. Blumm, PA, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus
PA Advisor to CM&F