This programme of study, skills development and placement experience allows you to build upon a first degree in biosciences, life sciences or health sciences in order to function as a qualified physician associate.
The programme teaches you to assess, diagnose and manage medical problems competently, consulting with patients presenting with a variety of specified conditions on behalf of, and under supervision of, a senior experienced doctor.
By the end of the programme, you will be able to deliver holistic medical care and treatment to a standard defined by the National Examination for Physician Associates, which will enable you to work in either Primary or Secondary Care.
The programme consists of eight taught modules.
On successful completion of the programme, students will receive a Post Graduate Diploma in Physician Associate Studies, but will also need to sit a National Examination comprising a written paper and OSCE examination, set by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians, in order to be able to practise in the NHS.
On passing the National Examinations, the graduate can be registered on the National Register (currently a Voluntary Register but awaiting accreditation and appointment of a Regulatory Body). The graduate can only work as a physician associate in the NHS if he/she is on this National Register.
Example module listing
The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.
Physician associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. As a physician associate, you might work in a GP surgery or be based in a hospital, but wherever you work, you'll have direct contact with patients.
You’ll be trained to perform a number of day-to- day tasks including:
To understand what a physician associate does on a day-to- day basis, Health Education England have produced this informative Day in the Life of a Physician Associate video.
This programme will be delivered through collaboration with Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex and engagement with Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), Canterbury and Christchurch University (CCU) and the University of Kent.
The majority of teaching, however, will be conducted by Surrey staff and local NHS clinicians. The four HEIs (including Surrey) may share facilities in areas of individual specialist expertise, although teaching will be conducted by Surrey staff.
Working with local NHS Trusts (primary and community care, acute, secondary care and mental health) will enable elements including work-based assessments and summative assessments (the clinical OSCEs).
The University of Surrey is part of the Surrey Health Partners Alliance, bringing together NHS Trusts in Surrey with the University to enhance learning and teaching, research and clinical practice.
The local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs, covering GP practices) and NHS Health Trusts (covering hospitals, community care and psychiatric care) are all represented fully within Surrey Health Partners.
Following successful graduation from this Diploma course, you will need to sit the National Assessment for Physician Associates, set by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians, London.
Passing the National Assessment will allow you to be put onto the National Register for Physician Associates, so that you can practise clinically in the UK.
The predicted growth of the physician associate role across the NHS to fill an important resource gap indicates strong continued employment prospects for graduates. Physician associates will pursue a profession that is supported by the NHS and the Department of Health: over 30 hospitals currently employ PAs across the UK and the numbers are growing fast.
Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex aims to produce PAs who can work in primary as well as secondary care.
The overarching educational aim of the programme is to train graduates with a first degree in Biosciences, Life Sciences or Health Sciences, or suitable approved programme, to Post Graduate Diploma level, to function as a qualified physician associate (on passing the National Examination).
Physician associates will be able to:
This training includes the necessary knowledge, skills and professional attitudes needed to work to the medical model, demonstrating safe medical practice, medical competence, compassion, reflective and critical thinking in diagnostic reasoning and clinical management.
Graduates will be able to assess, diagnose and manage medical problems competently, consulting with patients presenting with a variety of specified conditions on behalf of, and under supervision of a senior experienced doctor.
They will be able to understand and demonstrate the principles of safe and effective prescribing.
Graduates will be trained to a standard defined by the National Examination for Physician Associates that will enable them to work as physician associates in the National Health Service, with appropriate accreditation and regulation once these have been decided and implemented.
This course is suitable for graduates with a life science degree or similar qualification. It enables you to build on your previous studies and gain a healthcare professional qualification.
Physician associates are a growing group within the UK and are seen as one of the solutions to recruitment challenges within medicine, particularly in general practice. There are excellent job prospects for qualified physician associates as the role continues to evolve in response to changing healthcare needs.
The course provides you with opportunities to develop expert medical knowledge and skills in taking medical histories, examining patients, providing a diagnosis, analysing results and developing management plans and pathways. The course meets the expectations of Competence and Curriculum Framework for the PA (DH 2006, revised 2012) (CCF).
Learning takes place in the classroom, in simulated clinical learning suites and whilst on clinical placement. We give you the unique opportunity to work with students on other healthcare professional courses, such as nursing and physiotherapy.
You complete over 1,600 hours of clinical placements during the two year course. You learn in general hospital settings in medicine and surgery, as well as specialised areas such as paediatrics and mental health, and in primary care in GP surgeries. You attend clinical placements within a month of starting the course, and placements are integrated throughout the two years so that you are able to apply theoretical learning to the real world of practice and the care of patients. Your first and final placement take place in the same GP surgery and you are able to maintain a relationship with your GP supervisor throughout the two years for mentoring and support. A final three month placement in general practice also provides you with an ideal environment to prepare for the National Examination at the end of the course.
After successfully completing the course, you are able to apply for innovative roles throughout the UK, joining a growing body of physician associates in rich and varied employment.
Full-time – typically two years
Starts January 2018. You are required to attend a compulsory study day in November 2017 (date to be confirmed).
The course meets the expectations of Competence and Curriculum Framework for the PA (DH 2006, revised 2012) (CCF)
The curriculum content is structured into modules which develop your skills in professional practice, clinical assessment and treatment and underpinning knowledge. Learning takes place in the classroom, in clinical simulation suites and in the real world of healthcare.
In addition you have access to online/distance learning resources to support and enhance your learning experience.
It is expected that graduates from this course will have access to a wide range of healthcare roles, working under the supervision of a medical practitioner. For example, there are physician associates employed in GP surgeries in the Yorkshire region, in medicine and surgery settings in acute healthcare and in specialised areas of medicine.
Typically, graduate physician associates are employed on band 7 in NHS posts and can progress to band 8. For more information about a career as a physician associate visit the NHS Careers website.