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UEA’s first Physician Associates graduate today

Physician Associates

Today (Thursday 19 July), the first cohort of 25 Physician Associates celebrated their graduation from the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

“Physician Associates are a new role, created to add value to healthcare teams,” said Dr Audrey Gibbs, UEA’s Course Director. “We introduced our two-year MSc programme in January 2016 following a call from the NHS to train these new health professionals as a way to increase the healthcare workforce in England.”

The course is designed for students who already hold a science or health-related degree and is similar to a medical degree. Physician Associates perform complete patient consultations and management, with supervision by a doctor as appropriate. They can work in many areas of healthcare, including primary care, emergency care and in-patient care in all specialities.

"With the course being practically focused and half our time spent on placement, we had ample opportunity to hone our skills, allowing us to feel ready and confident when we qualified as working Physician Associates," said Sophie Newbold.

Rowan Davies added: “The exposure we had in hospital during our time on the PA course gave us a good foundation for working life and the experience and confidence to hit the ground running.”

“We’re very proud of our first cohort of qualified UEA Physician Associates,” said Dr Gibbs. “As pioneers, they experienced challenges but were dedicated and hardworking and can be proud of their success.

“They not only had to succeed in their university exams but also needed to pass the Physician Associate national examination, which they did with a 100% pass rate, well above the national average. We’re delighted by their well-deserved achievement.”

As the first group to graduate in Norfolk, they’re also pioneers in their field who will set the standard for future clinicians, helping to strengthen the healthcare system in this region, which has a shortage of doctors.

Nineteen of the graduates are already working locally in healthcare teams in Norfolk and Suffolk, some in the hospitals where they trained and others in primary care, with many employment opportunities in the region and nationally.

Their contribution is being very well received by both staff and patients. At one hospital, every patient who was aware that they’d been treated by a Physician Associate said they’d be happy to be treated by one again and all were confident in their ability to treat them.

If you’re interested in studying to be a Physician Associate, you can find out more by visting the UEA website.