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Physician Associate Students Given 'Valuable Insight' Into Profession at National Conference

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Students from the University of Worcester’s pioneering new MSc Physician Associate programme were invited to facilitate a high-profile conference centred around the emerging profession last month.

Health Education England’s (HEE) ‘Physician Associates in the Workplace’ conference brought together medical experts from across the country to discuss, debate and explore the key roles of Physician Associates, and the benefits they bring. 

The profession – whilst well established in North America – is relatively new in the UK.  Applicants for Physician Associate training must have biomedical or science degrees and a commitment to service before they can be considered for entry into this intense, accelerated medical programme.

Members of the course’s first cohort began their studies in September, and were invited to HEE’s recent conference, held at Birmingham City’s St Andrews Stadium, where they took part in discussions and workshops aimed at identifying areas of development for the profession in the UK.

The conference was organised in a collaborative effort between Health Education England and Health Education West Midlands and was chaired by Professor Elizabeth Hughes (Post-Graduate Dean, West Midlands, and Director of Education and Quality for Health Education West Midlands). A range of course providers and employers from across the UK and US provided key note speeches and presentations, led panel discussions and delivered workshop sessions.

Jane Perry, Head of Business and Workforce Development at the University of Worcester, gave a presentation on the development of the only UK Master’s level PA programme and the benefits of expanding the physician associate role in this country.  Also present were representatives from three other PA programmes in the UK: St. Georges University of London, and the Universities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

Margaret Allen, Director of the University’s Physician Associate programme and an experienced PA from the United States, said: “By the end of 2016, the first graduates of the University of Worcester’s MSc Physician Associate programme will start providing cost-effective medical care, alongside doctors, in situations where timely treatment may not be much more than a pipe-dream.”

“By participating in the conference, the students gained valuable early insight into the workings of the NHS and met many leaders who recognise that PAs are an elegant solution to the medical workforce crisis.”

One of the students to attend the conference was Natasha Kamboh. She explains: “I found the conference very useful as I enjoyed explaining the role of PAs to other members of the healthcare team and increasing awareness.

“I am thoroughly enjoying the course, there is a lot to learn and so it is important we all try and keep on top of everything including both theoretical and clinical knowledge.”