- Work closely with doctors in hospitals and GP surgeries
- Provide care for patients with a wide range of medical conditions
- Opportunities to move into management, teaching, or research
As a physician associate, you'll deal directly with adults and children with a wide range of medical conditions. You'll support the work of the medical team and provide care for patients with long term health problems.
Your day-to-day tasks will be similar to that of doctors, and may include:
- Taking medical histories
- Examining patients
- Diagnosing and making referrals
- Creating a healthcare management plan
- Taking part in clinics
- Performing medical procedures
- Treating and advising patients with chronic or long term health conditions
- Giving advice on keeping healthy and promoting wellbeing
You could work in an NHS or private hospital or at a health centre. Your working environment may be physically or emotionally demanding at times.
To become a physician associate, you'll need knowledge of medicine and biology, sensitivity and understanding, the ability to understand people's reactions, active listening skills, thoroughness and attention to detail, the ability to work well with others, and the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.
You'll need to pass enhanced background checks. Once you're qualified, you'll have to complete 50 hours of continuous professional development each year and sit a renewal exam every 6 years.
You'll need an undergraduate degree in a health or life science subject, such as biology, biomedical science, physician associate studies, nursing, pharmacy, chemistry, or medical therapies. After your degree you can study a 2-year, full-time, postgraduate physician associate diploma or master's course that is recognised by the Faculty of Physician Associates. Courses combine the scientific study of general medicine and practical clinical experience. You'll study general and community medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, mental health, paediatrics, and obstetrics and gynaecology.
You may be able to do a physician associate degree apprenticeship, leading to a master's postgraduate level qualification. It will take around 30 to 36 months to complete.
If you're a qualified and experienced healthcare professional, like a nurse or midwife, you may be able to become a physician associate. You'll need to take a postgraduate qualification in physician associate studies to do this.
With experience, you could move into management, medical training or research. Many physician associates work in general practice or emergency care, though it could be possible to specialise in a specific clinical area like paediatric care or mental health.