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Course content

A Physician Associate (PA) is defined as someone who is a new healthcare professional who, while not a doctor, works to the medical model, with the attitudes, skills and knowledge base to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or general practice team under defined levels of supervision.

While Physician Associates are not meant to replace doctors, they are urgently needed to meet the increasing demand of a growing and ageing population combined with reductions in the medical workforce especially in the more rural areas of Wales. Working within teams, they would enhance patient care both in the community and hospital setting in a more efficient and relatively cost-effective manner. Graduates from this course will have a broad and relevant set of transferable skills with a focus on medical history taking, clinical examination, analysis of test results, clinical reasoning and diagnosis, and the development of evidence based patient management plans.

In order to be eligible to sit the national Physician Associate examination, successful completion of 2 year PG Diploma in Physician Associate Studies is required. Welsh Government funding is available to cover fees and to provide some support for cost of living.

“This is a new program for north Wales and one of several commencing across the UK. The program will utilise the best teachers in medical science and clinical practice in North Wales that have a track record of teaching, research and clinical excellence in their specialist fields.” Professor Dean Williams, Head of School of Medical Sciences at Bangor University and Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital, one of the three main District General Hospitals within the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, is Program Director and will have a significant role in delivering key aspects of the course.  

Course content is for guidance purposes only and may be subject to change.

Course Content

The 2-year PG Diploma program uses a multi-disciplinary, research-informed approach to teach clinical and basic science related to the human systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, female reproductive, renal and genitourinary, the eyes, and skin) and diagnostics & therapeutics.

The scientific background is taught in the context of clinical placements in Community Medicine, General Hospital Medicine, Front Door Medicine, Mental Health, General Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Paediatrics.

Successful completion of the 2 year PG Diploma enables graduates to take the national certification exam, which is mandatory to register and work as a Physician Associate.

Students benefit from a strong exposure to clinicians and scientists with active research in medically related subjects.

Course Structure

The program is delivered by the Physician Associate Faculty that brings together clinicians and other experts from across the disciplines of primary and secondary medical care. The course content reflects the curriculum and learning requirements for the Physician Associate framework (PA CC 2012).

The Physician Associate programme at Bangor includes an integrated placement programme of work-based learning that will provide progressive experiential learning in a range of clinical settings to allow students to attain the standards of knowledge and understanding in clinical practice, including regulatory structures, professionalism and clinical competences expected of a Physician Associate. Placements will be grouped according to the following clinical subject headings and minimum periods:

  • Community Medicine (180h)
  • General Hospital Medicine (350 h)
  • Front Door Medicine (180 h)
  • Mental Health (90 h)
  • General Surgery (90h)
  • Obstetrics & Gynaecology (90 h)
  • Paediatrics (acute setting) (90h) 

During the course you will learn how to recognise and manage common and complex medical conditions as part of multi-professional team, to make independent and informed judgements on clinical problems and be trained to integrate knowledge and clinical practice. As a Physician Associate graduate you’ll be able to demonstrate outstanding interpersonal and professional skills when working with patients, carers and clinical multi-disciplinary teams in a multicultural environment. You will also have a comprehensive understating of I.T., record keeping and communication using a diverse range of media in evidence based practice and understand the importance of health promotion, disease prevention and inequalities in society and local communities.

The programme aims to give students a comprehensive knowledge of the concepts, principles and technologies used in clinical practice in the following areas:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Respiratory system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Eyes
  • Female reproductive system
  • Renal and genitourinary system
  • Skin
  • Diagnostics and therapeutics.
  • Neurology

On successful completion of the course, you’ll have gained the key knowledge related to practice as a physician associate, including major concepts related to the principles and theories associated with human anatomy and physiology, cell biology, body/system-drug actions and interactions, mechanisms underlying human pathological conditions and the basis of the clinical and technological methods used to diagnose and monitor these conditions. You be able to demonstrate the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment in the medical domain including history taking and consultation skills, and physical examinations tailored to the needs of the patient and the demands of the clinical situation. You’ll also be able to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the needs of patients/clients, and decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching occurs via lectures, clinical placements, practical classes and group work including case centred discussions often delivered by academic clinicians who hold joint University and Health board contracts. Students benefit from a high number of contact hours that includes utilisation of our state-of-the art teaching laboratories and simulation suite at the hospital. Academic assessment includes placement reports, observed clinical skills, MCQ and written exams.

Modules for the current academic year

Module listings are for guide purposes only and are subject to change. Find out what our students are currently studying on the Physician Associate Studies Modules page.


Visit the Physician Associate Studies - PGDip page on the Bangor University website for more details!

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