Dr. Duck: Professional Appropriator

No, this is not about duck calling, Duck Dynasty, or referencing to professional appropriators as quacks, it’s about a particular posting floating around social media recently. I’m not pasting the internet link to the posting to respect the privacy of and to respect the man in reference. I think doxing is cowardly and wrong. This blog is about terminology used in the posting that seems by design to confuse the lay public:  

Dr. Duck is fellowship trained in orthopedic surgery which is an achievement that only 4% of physician assistants currently practicing in orthopedics accomplish.


His Master of Physician Assistant Studies and Bachelor of Science degrees were both completed at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine through the IPAP.


holds an additional certification in orthopedic surgery through NCCPA’s Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ)

Hold the phone!

Here’s the problems:

First – using the title of “doctor” for other than a physician in a clinical setting. The posting then goes on reporting “Dr. Duck completed his Doctor of Medical Science degree from the University of Lynchburg.” Often, mid-level providers with doctorate degrees introduce themselves as “doctors” which confuses the public who often don’t know the difference on who is treating them.  Yes, Dr. Duck, you earned a doctorate degree and by rights in an academic setting can refer to yourself as ‘doctor,’ but in a clinical setting, it’s a different story. This is professional appropriation at its finest. Why is this bad? 

There is no equivalency between a physician and a nonphysician health professional. This does not mean that nonphysicians are not valued members of the health care team (they are), or that there isn’t a need for their services (there is), and I certainly am not attempting to diminish their skills and talents. However, it is a demonstrable fact that every physician, regardless of specialty, has successfully achieved significantly more hours of didactic and clinical education than every nonphysician provider. (https://www.aafp.org/news/blogs/inthetrenches/entry/20190903itt-differences.html)

ACEP strongly opposes the use of the term “doctor” by other professionals in the clinical setting, including by those with independent practice, where there is strong potential to mislead patients into perceiving they are being treated by a physician. https://www.acep.org/patient-care/policy-statements/use-of-the-title-doctor-in-the-clinical-setting/

Second – “fellowship trained” – this medical terminology is hijacked from the term ACGME accredited fellowship which after a residency indicates further specialty training in orthopedic surgery. The fact that there are programs being called ‘fellowships’ such as https://school.wakehealth.edu/Education-and-Training/Residencies-and-Fellowships/Orthopaedic-PA-Fellowship, goes to show the problem is not only at the individual level, it is at the level of professional organizations. Everyone wants to confuse the public to equate themselves to physicians, or worse that they. Why else would one appropriate medicine and physician terms? Can you imagine poor old little Mrs. Jones, 85 y/o and breaks her hip going to the clinic thinking she is seeing a physician, real orthopedic surgeon? She wouldn’t know the difference. I think this is by design. 

Third, “orthopedic surgery”?? Really? Can this get any more blatant? Orthopedic surgery or any surgery is a privilege for surgeons only, ACGME residency and fellowship trained. That there are professional certifications in ‘orthopedic surgery’ also goes to show that professional appropriation is at the systemic level.  https://www.nccpa.net/orthopaedicsurgery

Forth, “College of Medicine” – No, Dr. Duck! You did not go to medical school. You went to University of Nebraska, College of Allied Health Professions Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP) (https://www.unmc.edu/alliedhealth/education/pa/ipap.html).

At this point, it’s fair to ask, what’s the point? What’s the point of referencing yourself with all the appropriated physician terminology? Everyone wants to promote themselves with the esteem of a being a physician or to confuse that they are physicians. Why else use all the medicine and ACGME terminology? This needs to stop!

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