This week is Physician Associate (PA) awareness week and we want to celebrate our PAs in Kent and Medway.
Physician Associate numbers continue to increase in Kent. We currently have 67 PAs across the whole Kent and Medway healthcare system, 52% of whom are working in primary where numbers have increased by over half since November 2022.
Physician Associates are science graduates trained in a two year programme to safely see service users in various elements of their patient pathway. PAs work under the General Medical Council (GMC) clause of delegation and must be supervised by a Dr who can oversee their clinical practice and delegate work according to their training, skills and competence.
PAs are trained to take medical histories, examine patients, consider possible differential diagnoses, initiate and interpret test results and other investigations alongside their supervisor. With additional training and experience, PAs can develop into a range of areas with a variety of skills.
As a new professional group it is not uncommon for employers to draw similarities between PAs and other healthcare professionals in attempts to understand how it may feel having a PA in practice or how to supervise and develop them. The training and practice of a PA has commonalities across several professions, yet PAs have their own unique identity, training, learning needs and scope of practice. The career progression of PAs is unlike other healthcare groups and is still being defined.
In 2024 PAs will become regulated by the GMC. The title of Physician Associate will become protected in law and PAs MUST be registered in order to practice. Upon regulation, PAs will be eligible to undertake Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (IRMER) training and as a statutory regulated professional, they will be able to administer medications under a patient group directive.
Other changes for PAs coming in the next 12 months includes a formalised career progression framework and new e-portfolio where PAs can log workplace based assessments, feedback, reflections and other evidence of development.
Kent and Medway Training Hub is here to support you with your PA journey whether you’re intrigued by what they may offer, employ or support PAs and want to know how to develop them or are looking to recruit for the first time.
Here is what some of our PA employers and PAs say about working in primary care in Kent.
“I’ve been a primary care physician associate for the past four years and I’m privileged to work within a great multidisciplinary team who have embraced the PA role and who welcome and encourage the skills we bring from our training. As an older PA I feel I bring significant life experience which translates into a deeper understanding of the patient and the factors which, not only contribute to a patient’s presentation, but also how they may affect the efficacy of their management plan.
I see a range of patients presenting with on-the-day issues such as coughs, infections, lumps and bumps etc to the more chronic conditions including asthma, learning disability and mental health reviews.
I chose general practice as I felt it more satisfactory to be able to follow a patient from initial presentation, through to secondary care referral and back to community for their onward care, to really appreciate their medical story. I really enjoy the fact that no two days are the same and the challenge of being kept on my toes -there’s always something new to learn.”
“”We hired our PA as I had worked with them at another surgery and knew how hard working and professional, they were. I also felt that they would slot in nicely to provide additional support for on the day problems as well as chronic disease management/QOF. In the longer term we hope that they will be able to develop their own specialist area of interest”
If you would like more information on PAs please email Sarah.Vigor@nhs.net or come to our next PA Employer drop in. Dates can be found on the training hub website events calendar Events from May 18 – June 15 | Kent & Medway Primary Care Training Hub (kmpctraininghub.nhs.uk)