The American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants (AAPA) has released a position statement in which it states it is “ardently opposed to the use of “doctorate of anatomic pathology,” or any other title which would serve to compete with the identity of board certified anatomic pathologists and clinical pathologists.”
On August 29, I wrote about Rosalind Franklin University’s (RFU) plans to begin enrolling Pathologists’ Assistant students in a new program that would bestow upon them the title of “Doctor of Anatomic Pathology” (DAP). My article was based primarily on the fact RFU had filed a Notice of Intent for Degree Granting Authority (NOI) for the DAP degree with the state of Illinois.
I sent emails to two administrators at RFU the week before I published requesting more information on the DAP degree. I received no response, so I went ahead and published what I knew.
The following morning, a reader informed me he had contacted the Illinois Board of Higher Education and was told the NOI had very recently expired. To the reader this meant RFU may have abandoned its plans to offer the DAP degree.
What the reader did not know at the time, however, is the assistant dean I had contacted the week before finally got back to me (after I had published the article) and gave me the name of the person at RFU who “is developing [the DAP] program.”
The AAPA gets involved
The AAPA recently convened its Board of Trustees to form a position statement about this matter that was released on September 13.
In its statement, the AAPA describes the educational process PAs must currently undergo and “sees no need for additional degrees to create additional competencies for pathologists’ assistants.”
The AAPA board unanimously agreed the title “Doctor of Anatomic Pathology” is an inappropriate degree title for Pathologists’ Assistants that “may serve to confuse patients, medical institutions, healthcare providers, and regulators about the clinical/medical competencies of these individuals.”
The board further decided (also unanimously) that a “doctor of anatomic pathology” is a term reserved for a physician who has completed a pathology residency, passed the American Board of Pathology board examination and has a license to practice medicine as a pathologist.
Briefly, I applaud the AAPA for its decision. Based on what I know of the program (which is admittedly very little), it appears the degree will simply create a significant amount of confusion and force PA students to pay even more tuition than they already do.
It will be interesting to see if RFU decides to continue on with its plans now that the AAPA is so clearly opposed.
Note-A (different) reader contacted me over the weekend to let me know the AAPA’s annual meeting just began on September 21. Any attendee who can provide me with some insight into what, if anything, is said about this topic would be greatly appreciated.