Physician associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. This page will give you a detailed guide to the Physician Associate role, PA studies and careers.
A Physician Associate is somebody who provides support to doctors taking care of patients. Their range of tasks include noting medical histories, analysing test results and diagnosing patients with the doctor’s supervision. The role is extremely varied: some Physician Associates may work in GP surgeries, or some may work in hospitals. Either way, you will have direct contact with patients.
The Physician Associate salary generally starts at £31,072 after training and can rise to £35,000 per year. A standard working week is roughly 37.5 hours.
Most Physician Associates will possess a Biomedical Sciences undergraduate degree – and then complete a Physician Associate degree. Currently, 29 universities in the UK run postgraduate Physician Associate Studies programmes. You can see these below:
Anglia Ruskin University MSc Physician Associate Studies
Brighton and Sussex Medical School Postgraduate Clinical Diploma in Physician Associate Studies
Bucks New University Postgraduate Diploma Physician Associate
Canterbury Christ Church University PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Hull York Medical School MSc Physician Associate Studies
Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Sheffield Hallam University PgDip Physician Associate Studies
London, St George's University of London MSc Physician Associate Studies
Birmingham PgDip Physician Associate Studies
UCLan, University of Central Lancashire PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Norwich, East Anglia MSc Physician Associate Studies
Leeds PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Manchester PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Reading University Postgraduate Diploma Physician Associate
Surrey PgDip Physician Associate
Bristol, University of the West of England MSc Physician Associate Studies
Wolverhampton PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Worcester MSc Physician Associate
Bradford MSc Physicians Associate Studies
London, Brunel University MSc Physician Associate Studies
Newcastle University PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Sheffield PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Swansea PgDip Physician Associate Studies; MSc Physician Associate Studies
Liverpool PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Aberdeen PgDip Physician Associate Studies
Bangor, University of Wales PgDip Physician Associate Studies
These programmes usually last two years. The course structure will cover patient-centred learning approaches, clinical reasoning strategies for diagnosis and clinical practice. Most programmes will also usually involve weeks of clinical placements in primary care in the second year of study.
Entry requirements for Physician Associate courses vary from school to school – so double check these before applying! Brighton and Sussex Medical School require that applicants will possess a first or second class honours degree in Life Sciences, or another healthcare-related undergraduate degree.
The University of Manchester requires a first or second class honours degree in a relevant subject – in this, they include Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, as well as Nursing, Midwifery and Pharmacy. Some universities also highly value relevant work experience, so it’s a good idea to try to undertake work experience as a Physician Associate before applying.
A career as a Physician Associate involves working across a wide range of areas in the NHS. Your day-to-day tasks can include diagnosing illnesses, developing treatment plans, managing patients with long-term chronic conditions, examining patients and analysing their test results. Physician Associates are unable to prescribe medicines, or to conduct X-Ray scans.
Your work will largely focus on adult and general practice, rather than providing specialty care – and you will need to pass a recertification test every six years to demonstrate you possess this general medical knowledge. The two year training at UK universities will include 1,600 hours of clinical training, and you will also spend 90 hours across the areas of mental health, surgery and gynaecology.
Read more about becoming a Physician Associate:
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