University of Wolverhampton Physician Associate
University of Wolverhampton Physician Associate
What is a Physician Associate?
A Physician Associate (PA) is a healthcare professional trained in the medical model who works as a member of a medical team under the supervision of a doctor or surgeon in a wide variety of workplaces (including GP practices, community health services and all types of hospital care).
As of January 2015 the universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Plymouth, St Georges, Worcester and Wolverhampton are running active PA courses, and the number of courses is set to increase in 2016. There are currently PAs working in England and Scotland in a wide variety of medical and surgical specialties. They are also found on the academic staffs of the universities’ programmes.
Mark Porter, Chair of the BMA council, believes that Physician Associates have the potential to be “a valued part of the NHS” but the scope of their work should be clear, allowing them to provide an intermediate level of care and reduce workload pressures. It is also important that all healthcare professionals – including doctors – are clear about the limit on the care they are able to provide, and work within them, Mr Porter states that “only doctors can provides certain types of care so the government need to ensure that standards will not be affected by these changes and the quality of patient care will be protect and maintained”.
The post of a Physician Associate, cannot, under any circumstances, replace doctors.
Duties of the Physician Associate
Most qualified PA’s work within the NHS, in areas such as acute adult general medicine, general practice, accident and emergency, and surgery. As a PA, you will work under the direct supervision of a doctor and you will be trained to perform a number of duties which include:
- Taking medical histories
- Performing examinations
- Diagnosing illnesses
- Analysing test results
- Developing management plans.
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What do we offer here at the University of Wolverhampton
Here at the University of Wolverhampton, we are currently running the Postgraduate Diploma for Physician Associates Studies over the course of two years. The course has been designed to enable you to develop the skills required to become a competent and confident PA.
Working to a medical model, you will develop a range of core competencies across a range of clinical practice areas supported by and working with consultants, doctors and a range of other healthcare professionals. Although the curriculum includes many of the same elements as the standard 4/5 year medical programme, it does focus primarily on general adult medicine in hospital and general practice settings rather than speciality care.
This inspiring programme of study provides the opportunity for you to develop mastery in a range of core PA qualities such as holistic assessment techniques and appropriate therapeutic interventions, with the ability to diagnose and/or manage an agreed range of clinical programmes.
You will be required to pass a national examination as part of the course whilst being developed as a flexible and adaptable practitioner, enabling you to engage in new ways of working in relation to health care priorities and to use ‘yourself’ to lead and develop practice to ensure high quality patient care delivery.
We are currently working with the following local NHS trusts who will be providing placement opportunities:
- Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust
- Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
- Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham Children’s Hospital
To find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma Physician Associates Studies, please click here.
PA’s undergo a two year postgraduate training programme (available at the University of Wolverhampton), students are generally required to have undertaken a science degree before starting the course, however most who take the course will already be trained health professionals, such as nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists.
They are trained under the medical model, to deliver high-quality medical care in both primary and secondary care settings. Once qualified, PA’s can develop their skills through research, teaching, training to become first assistants in surgery and running outpatient clinics and post-surgical follow ups.
A lack of trained PA’s in the UK means that career prospects for graduates are excellent; in 2013 alone, 136 vacancies were advertised with only 25 filled. The predicted growth of the PA role across the NHS to fill an important resource gap indicates strong continued employment prospects for graduates.
As a member of the healthcare profession, PA’s can bring in excellent medical and communication skills, a positive attitude to the current workplace and a respect for patients. With a current difficulty in recruiting doctors in acute and primary care, it opens up doors and makes a Physician Associate a highly sought after clinical professional in the healthcare sector.