ACP opens affiliate membership to PAs

There are about 50,000 physician assistants, and the number has been growing.

By Damon Adams — Posted Dec. 20, 2004

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For the first time, the American College of Physicians is offering memberships to nonphysicians, opening the door to physician assistants. ACP leaders say the move is a step toward further developing a team approach to practicing medicine.

"This isn't really a matter of increasing membership. It's a matter of improving care," said ACP Executive Vice President and CEO John Tooker, MD.

The ACP announced in mid-November that it is offering affiliate memberships to physician assistants who are non-student members of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, which has about 40,000 members. PAs pay $215 annual member fees to the AAPA. They would pay an additional $239 to be an ACP affiliate member. Regular ACP dues for a U.S. internist are $399 a year.

AAPA Executive Vice President and CEO Stephen Crane, PhD, said physician assistants are offered affiliate memberships in several state medical societies, and affiliate or associate memberships are offered by some national organizations such as the American College of Surgeons and American College of Cardiology. The AMA does not offer affiliate memberships to PAs. Crane said the ACP membership is a logical extension of the collegial working relationship between internists and PAs.

"Our organizational goals were to draw the two closer. This just underscores the very close relationship between PAs and physicians," Dr. Crane said.

The number of working PAs more than doubled in the past decade, growing from 23,300 in 1993 to more than 50,000, according to the AAPA. A 2003 AAPA survey found that 12.9% of PAs worked in a solo physician's office and 30.4% worked in group practices.

As ACP members, PAs will receive free online access to the Annals of Internal Medicine and ACP Journal Club. They will have access to the ACP Physicians' Information and Education Resource, a Web-based clinical decision support tool for point-of-care delivery. Other benefits include access to members-only resources on the ACP Web site, discounts on ACP programs, publications and services and continuing education programs at member prices.

"We're offering a critical benefit for PAs who want to keep up on internal medicine," Dr. Crane said. "Since [internists and PAs] work so closely together, they really should have the same access to the same materials."

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External links

American College of Physicians (link)

American Academy of Physician Assistants (link)

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