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GPs go forth

Why we are promoting the physician associate role

Professor Simon Gregory, HEE



Working in primary care involves working with GPs and the wider practice team to provide continuity of care for patients, particularly those with long-term conditions. From referrals to home visits, a role in general practice for a PA varies every single day.

 A physician associate for those not in the know is a graduate who has undertaken post-graduate training and works under the supervision of a doctor. They will be trained to perform a number of day-to-day tasks including:

  • Taking medical histories from patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Seeing patients with long-term chronic conditions
  • Performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Analysing test results
  • Developing management plans
  • Providing heath promotion and disease prevention advice for patients.

Once professional regulation of PAs is in place and with additional training we expect PAs to be able to prescribe and order radiology investigations. Physician associates complement the work of GPs and the entire practice team and increase access to quality care for patients. They act in an enabling role, helping to reduce the healthcare team’s workload, and bring new talent to the NHS, adding to the skill mix within the teams.

Physician associates will not mitigate the need to address the shortage of GPs or reduce the need for other practice staff. But they can help broaden the capacity of our role as GPs, and the skill mix within the practice’s team.

To find out more about this varied and interesting career choice hear from the PAs themselves in these short videos. Or go to our website.

If you’re a GP or practice manager, there’s a dedicated general practice employers page with access to contacts and free resources on the Faculty of Physician Associates website. You can find out more about our campaign on HEE’s website.

Professor Simon Gregory is a GP and primary care lead at Health Education England 

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Why don’t they just go to medical school?
    (the predictive widget thingy wrote this)

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  • The list of tasks they can perform seems very similiar to the list of things I learn't to do at medical school.
    A newly qualified house officer also gets paid considerably less than a new PA, but of course also has to do unpleasant things like overnight/OOH wrok too.
    Why don;t they just train more doctors?

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  • A bit of title creep here I think. what happened to "Physicians Assistants"? As a GP I couldn't have learnt all I have done with a post grad course. Where are the Doctors? surely another layer of patient interface just muddies already murky waters.

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  • I think the title should be I first mistakenly read it : 'why are we promoting the physicians associate role?'

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