About physician associates in general practice
Physician associates are trained and qualified to diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions. They work alongside GPs to provide care to people, particularly those with long-term conditions who often benefit from being able to see the same healthcare professional.
Why do we need Physician Associates?
Due to a growing population, the advances in technology, better diagnosis, prevention and treatments, the NHS can sometimes struggle to cope. This is a new role to bring more talent, adding rather than taking away from existing members of the medical workforce and increased access for patient services and care.
What can physician associates help with?
Physician associates (PAs) are medically trained healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors and other members of the practice team to provide a range of patient care.
Physicians associates can help with lots of things including:
- diagnosing and treating health conditions
- arranging tests and analysing results
- performing physical examinations
- take medical histories from patients
- carry out physical examinations
- see patients for on the day or scheduled appointments
- manage and treat patients of all ages and make referrals
- visit patients at home, nursing or residential homes
- review and act on laboratory results
- run specialist clinics such as family planning, baby checks, long term conditions or minor ops – with extra training
- teach and supervise students
- provide patient health promotion and disease prevention advice
- help GPs with some admin tasks
They are trained and qualified to run their own clinical appointments but always work under the supervision of a GP.
Like other medical staff, physician associates work with their patients to provide the best and most suitable care. They have access to patients’ medical records in case they need to refer to past medical history.
Strict rules of confidentiality are adhered to throughout this practice.
How are GPs benefitting?
Physician associates can perform a valuable role as part of the extended primary care team. There is scope for them to take some pressure off GPs by performing some defined clinical tasks and providing patients, especially those with long-term conditions, the continuity of care they need.
How does the role of the physician associate differ from that of a GP?
A physician associate is a new healthcare professional who, whilst not a doctor, works to the medical model. They have the attitude, skills and knowledge base to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or general practice team under defined levels of supervision.
Qualifications for a PA
PAs must pass an intensive 2 -year university course at diploma or masters level to learn clinical knowledge and skills after completing a 3 -year biomedical or healthcare related degree.
They train in hospital and GP practices to gain knowledge, skills and experience about how to look after patients.
The Faculty of Physician Associates is part of the Royal College of Physicians. They set and run the PA national exam, check the education standards and maintain a register of qualified PAs.
PAs are required to show that they are keeping their knowledge and skills up to date and have to recertify every 6 years.
For further information visit the Faculty of Physician Associates via the following link: www.rcplondon.ac.uk/physician-associatesLearn more about other healthcare roles that can support you by clicking on this link.