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Physician Associate

Physician AssociateA Physician Associate 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. Read more in our case study.

Did you know that Physician Associates are now eligible to join the RCS as associate members? As an associate member, you will be able to access a range of valuable benefits and access a 50% discount on membership during 2018. Find out more and join today.


Area of practice

Inpatient (ward, theatre, Emergency Department) and Outpatient (clinic).

Overview of tasks and activities

Clinical duties

  • Formulate and document a diagnosis, having taken a history and completed a physical examination
  • Develop a comprehensive patient management plan in light of the individual characteristics, background and circumstances of the patient; maintain and deliver the clinical management of the patient on behalf of the supervising physician while the patient travels through a complete episode of care
  • Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and prescribe medications (subject to the necessary legislation)
  • Request and interpret diagnostic studies and undertake patient education, counselling and health promotion
  • Run clinics (i.e. sexual health, family planning or minor surgery)

Administrative duties 

  • Initiate and maintain accurate, timely and relevant medical records
  • Involvement in clinical governance, improvement activity, and quality audit 
  • Assist with meeting quality and outcomes framework targets (at GP practices)
  • Co-ordinate research activity

Liaison between patients and doctors 

  • Communicate effectively and appropriately with patients and carers even when communication is difficult
  • Make sure, wherever practical, that arrangements are made to meet patients’ language and communication needs 
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilise the clinician–patient encounter therapeutically
  • Perform a flexible and holistic assessment in order to make an appropriate management plan
  • Facilitate patient involvement in management, planning and control of their health and illness 
  • Appropriately and sensitively identify and utilise opportunities for patient and carer education 

Supervision and management

The Physician Associate is responsible for their own practice, although they will always work under the supervision of a designated senior medical practitioner, and the medical consultant or general practitioner will retain ultimate responsibility for the clinical management of the patient.


  • Physician Associates are not autonomous, and work under the supervision of doctors
  • PAs cannot currently independently prescribe medicines or request ionising radiation

Eligibility for training

Two routes of entry:

1. Biomedical or biological science degree (2:1 hons)

2. Prior experience as a registered healthcare professional (most commonly nurse, healthcare assistant or paramedic)


  • PAs have to meet a nationally approved standard of training and practice, required under the competence and curriculum framework for physician associates laid down by the Faculty of Physician Associates
  • The two year training programme focuses principally on general adult medicine in hospital and general practice, rather than specialty care
  • There will also be 1,600 hours of clinical training, taking place in a range of settings, including 350 hours in general hospital medicine
  • Trainees typically spend 90 hours in mental health, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics
  • Trainee PAs must pass their programme assessments as well as a national examination of knowledge and skills
  • PAs must retake the national exam every six years, and meet CPD requirements in order to re-certify 

Professional accountability

Currently no statutory professional regulation.


Band 7.

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