Physician Associates

What is a Physician Associate?

The Department of Health defines the Physician Associate as: ‘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.’

The appetite for introducing Physician Associate roles is growing steadily across all healthcare sectors in response primarily to the shortage of doctors in a number of specialities e.g. emergency medicine, elderly care/rehabilitation and general practice. As part of the Workforce Transformation programme in March 2015, NHS E invited NHS providers across the region to be part of the discussion that would ultimately shape the development of a pilot programme for 160 student Physicians Associates across the North West region. We are delighted that Blackpool Teaching Hospitals was selected as one of those providers to take part in the pilot programme.

The Trust hosts clinical placements three times a year for cohorts of seven students undertaking their Physician Associates qualification at the University of Central Lancashire. The first year placements are in Surgery, the Acute Medical Unit, Care of the Elderly, Stroke Medicine, Cardiology, Diabetes and Endocrinology, and Respiratory Medicine and are for 8 weeks.

Training to become a Physician Associate is a two year post-graduate diploma or masters with a 50:50 split between classroom and clinical placement and is available to students with a science related first degree and a recognised postgraduate qualification.  In terms of regulation, Physician Associates are currently subject to a managed voluntary register that recently came under the auspices of the Royal College of Physicians programme structure.