Physician Associates (PA) are medically trained healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team. PA’s are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated medical supervisor, but are also able to work autonomously with the appropriate support.
The Physician Associate role complements that of a GP. This role increases access to quality care for patients and provides support to the healthcare teams by helping to reduce workload and adding to the skill mix.
Physician Associates are able to offer continuity and stability for patients, practice and team – PA support also provides cover so GPs may attend training, clinics and other commitments.
Physician Associates will have completed a bio-science related first degree to get onto one of the training programmes available.
Alternatively, registered healthcare professionals such as a nurse, allied health care professional or a midwife can also apply to become a Physician Associate.
A Greater Manchester practice employs 2 PAs to work across their group of practices. Below is a day in the life of one of those PAs.
“I assist with duty doctor support, ‘cherry picking’ cases that are within my clinical expertise, easing pressure from the GP to focus on more specialised, complex primary care cases. I independently look after selected nursing and residential homes. Typically, I will spend a few hours in the morning or afternoon seeing any residents that request to see a GP. I will then present the residents back to the GP. This will enable the GP to see a handful of residents that need an urgent assessment and anything routine can be dealt with by myself. I also assist with any home visits, telephone triage and phlebotomy, ECG’s etc if required”.
The Physician Associate can be trained to fulfill the needs of the Primary Care service.