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Physician associate

Physician associate

Physician associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. They are trained to perform a number of roles including:

  • taking medical histories
  • performing examinations
  • diagnosing illnesses
  • analysing test results
  • developing management plans.

They work under the direct supervision of a doctor.

Training

Physician associate training lasts two years, with students studying for 46-48 weeks each year.

Although it invoves many aspects of an undergraduate or postgraduate medical degree, it focuses principally on general adult medicine in hospital and general practice, rather than specialty care.

Training will include significant theoretical learning in the key areas of medicine. There will also be 1,600 hours of clinical training, taking place in a range of settings, including 350 hours in general hospital medicine. You'll also typically spend 80 hours in mental health, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics.

As well as academic achievement, applicants for physician associate courses will need to be able to demonstrate experience of working with the public, an interest in health or social care, the right values to work for the NHS and excellent communication skills.

Entry requirements

You will usually need a science-related first degree to get onto one of the training programmes available.

Healthcare staff such as nurses, allied health professionals and midwives may also apply to become a physician associate.

Where can I study?

Training for physician associates is currently being delivered by a small number of higher education institutions (HEIs):  

Programmes are usually developed in conjunction with the local/regional NHS organisations.

Physician associates have to meet a nationally approved standard of training and practice. This is a requirement of the competence and curriculum framework for physician associates.

Registration

It is recommended that all physician associates register on the Physician Assoicate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR).

The UK Physician Assistant Association (UKAPA) and the UK and Ireland Universities Board for PA Education (UKIUBPAE) also recommend employers make this a compulsory criterion for employment.

Regulation

The aim of the profession is to have statutory registration in the future and work is underway to facilitate this.

Further information

Contact the following organisations for more information on the available training programmes.