Physician associates are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals, who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. Physician associates are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated medical supervisor, but are able to work autonomously with appropriate support.
Here at CHFT we employed our first Physician Associates in 2017.
Our role modelling followed by an initial small recruitment highlighted the huge workforce benefits that PAs can bring (continuity of care, workforce stability, team working alongside doctors, increased depth of out of hours cover etc.).
This prompted ongoing larger recruitment and we currently have more than 30 PAs across various specialties within the Trust.
Our Preceptorship rotational posts (4-6 monthly) are in Acute Medicine, Elderly Medicine, Gastroenterology, General Medicine with Diabetes & Endocrine, Respiratory and Cardiology. These are filled by the newer graduates or PA’s who prefer to broaden their generalist training.
The are also fixed posts within certain specialities; for the more experienced Physician Associates who prefer to embed within one particular team and develop enhanced relevant skills. PA’s currently work in Respiratory Medicine, Acute Medicine, Frailty Services, Elderly Care with an interest in Peri-Operative Procedures (Ortho-Geriatrics), Elderly Care with an interest in Movement Disorders. Fixed post expansion is on-going as the Faculty gains clinical experience, and the workforce trajectory adapts accordingly.
•We have five Physician Associates working in general surgery, working in Colorectal Surgery and Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery.
•Our PAs contribute to the ongoing development of our surgical services and support high quality patient care. They work closely with colleagues on the Surgical Same Day Emergency Care Unit (SSDEC) and support our Junior Doctors on the surgical wards to support the acute post take. Our Surgical Physician Associates are involved in delivering telephone Colorectal Fast-track Clinic and innovative procedures such as delivering Cytosponge devices.
•We’re proud that our Physician Associates have also contributed to research and presented at international conferences.
•Five new posts were developed in 2021 for PAs in the Emergency Departments at CHFT
•In their first year PAs will work closely with senior ED staff to implement their history and examination skills by clerking and formulating management plans for all categories of patients that attend.
•They will be expected to develop skills in Resuscitation, Manipulation of Fractures/Dislocations, Fascia Illiaca Blocks and Ultrasound
•Once established clinically, PAs will have a review of their job plans to incorporate non-clinical time to develop interests in various subspecialties such as Simulation, Medical Education, Ultrasound, Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Leadership and Management.
The Royal college of Physicians is in charge of the development and the oversight of the PAs working in the UK.
This includes annual CPD conferences, where there are opportunities for all PAs in the country to come together for yearly professional updates.
There are several other institutes that are involved in the development of PAs, these include the Society of Acute Medicine, Royal College of Surgery and the Royal College of Physicians.
Our PA’s are gaining experience in areas beyond the ward day to day work – examples below of other Continued Professional Development
•At CHFT we have strong affiliations with local physician associate training programmes based at the University of Bradford and the University of Leeds.
•These students are currently training for a Masters in Physician Associates studies. The majority of the students are year 2 students.
•Currently we offer student placements in a large range of areas including Emergency Medicine, Medical & Surgical Specialties plus Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Ophthalmology and ENT.
•We offer training and teaching opportunities during placements to facilitate and maximise our student experiences alongside their university development.
•As part of student PA placements we provide weekly teaching. This ranges from ward based teaching to classroom based sessions.
•We aim to incorporate a structured and safe learning space for all our students. This includes simulation teaching and clinical skills labs based across the trust.
•Additionally, support during examination periods including clinical skills, mock examinations and seminars for revision are also available.
•Training PAs are also invited to attend Regional PA teaching on Microsoft Teams and sessions scheduled for inter-professional learning within their placement (Grand Round etc.)