The Physician Associate (PA) is: “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 PA role is gaining momentum and emerging as a key part of the future multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled, non-doctor workforce in the UK. However, the profession is often poorly understood by peers and employers and remains relatively unknown to the public.
Recent negative publicity within the national tabloid media prompted a backlash against the role, which the industry (PAs, their employers, course providers and stakeholders) felt to be poorly reasoned and inaccurate.
We are working collaboratively with our stakeholders and course providers, with an ambition to provide a joined up and robust national training and recruitment strategy.
Without raising public and employer understanding of the role, there is a risk of poor understanding leading to a lack of uptake by commissioners and employers, as well as a negative spin by the press leading to public misconceptions. The documentary concept – “A Day in the Life of a Physician Associate” – was realised as part of a targeted marketing campaign (including digital media, print publications, regional and national conferences and employer liaison), which seeks to pre-empt such issues.
The aim of the documentary is to provide an objective, accessible and informative insight into the world of the PA, in a medium which is versatile enough to be used in a variety of marketing, educational and recruitment-support strategies.
Physician Associate Ambassadors
As part of the GP Forward View initiative it is planned to appoint 1000 physician associates in primary care by 2020. This represents about 100 in the West Midlands and requires doubling the PA output from universities. HEE is appointing a number of “PA ambassadors” to act as trailblazers for primary care PAs. The ambassadors, working with CPENs will promote primary care as the career choice for PA students, encourage student placements in practices and work with GP employers to understand how to recruit PAs and deploy as part of their teams. An important aspect of the posts will be to develop a regional primary care PA professional support network. We are in the process of appointing our first PA ambassador in Herefordshire with additional ambassadors to be appointed in Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Birmingham.