How to Address a Physician Assistant

When you’re talking to a Physician Assistant, what do you call them? In this article, I’ll explain how to address a Physician Assistant and to quickly talk about our medical title. 

What to call a Physician Assistant

This is a common question for patients and colleagues as many PAs introduce themselves with their first name.

The current trend is that Physician Assistants will go by their first name or a simple Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. [last name]. And the best way to know which one to use is by listening to when your PA introduces themself.

Calling a PA by their first name is not disrespectful if that’s how they expect you to address them. And if you have any doubts, just ask! “How should I address you?”

I tend to go on a first name basis. “John” is easy to say while Mr. Elkhoury is typically more challenging to both pronounce and remember.

Calling us “doctor” or “doc” in a clinical setting is incorrect, because we are not Physicians. Even if we were to obtain a doctorate in some capacity, we would steer clear from that term during patient care matters to avoid confusion.

What title do Physician Assistants use?

The professional title of a Physician Assistant is usually abbreviated to PA-C. The “C” itself stands for “certified,” and indicates that the person passed the national boards examination provided by the NCCPA. 

The degree that a PA may obtain varies from MMS / MMSc (Master of Medical Science), MPAS (Master in Physician Assistant Studies), or MHS (Master of Health Science).

So the title of a PA would oftentimes be presented as:

John Elkhoury, PA-C, MMS


I hope this quick post helps to clear up how to address a Physician Assistant and how to decipher if a PA uses their academic title for anything. Any questions can be posted below. 

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