Physician Associates

Jordan Danskin

Physician Associates in General Practice

What does a Physician Associate do?

Physician associates (PAs) are medically trained, healthcare professionals, who work alongside doctors and other members of the practice team to provide a range of patient care. 

They are able to:

  • take medical histories from patients
  • carry out physical examinations
  • see patients with long-term chronic conditions with the support of a GP
  • formulate diagnoses and management plans with the support of a GP
  • request and interpret diagnostic studies (except those involving ionising radiation) with the support of a GP
  • provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients.

They are trained to run their own clinical appointments but always work under the supervision of a GP. All suitable patients are initially triaged by a GP and all cases reviewed by a GP. Any prescibing is done by the supervising GP.

Why do we need Physician Associates?

Due to a growing population, the advances in technology, better diagnosis, prevention and treatments, the NHS can sometimes struggle to cope. This is a new role to bring more talent, adding rather than taking away from existing members of the medical workforce and increased access for patient services and care.

Medical appointments

Like other medical staff, physician associates work with their patients to provide the best and most suitable care. They have access to patients’ medical records in case they need to refer to past medical history.

Strict rules of confidentiality are adhered to throughout this practice. 


PAs must pass an intensive 2 -year university course at diploma or master’s level to learn clinical knowledge and skills after completing a 3 -year biomedical or healthcare related degree.

They train in hospital and GP practices to gain knowledge, skills and experience about how to look after patients.

The Faculty of Physician Associates is part of the Royal College of Physicians. They set and run the PA national exam, check the education standards and maintain a register of qualified PAs.

PAs are required to show that they are keeping their knowledge and skills up to date and have to rectify every 6 years.