Physician Associates in Primary Care

Physician Associates are healthcare professionals with a generalist medical education, who work alongside doctors providing medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. Physician Associates are dependent practitioners who can work autonomously, but always under the supervision of a fully trained and experienced doctor.

There is currently a drive to recruit more Physician Associates to roles in primary care. Physician Associates bring new talent add to the skill mix within primary care teams, providing a stable, generalist section of the workforce which can help ease the workforce pressures that the NHS currently faces. They have the potential to address GP shortages and help deliver the five-year plan for primary care, as outlined in the General Practice Forward View.

Physician Associate work under the supervision of a doctor. You will be trained to perform a number of day-to-day tasks including:

  • taking medical histories from patients
  • performing physical examinations
  • diagnosing illnesses
  • seeing patients with long-term chronic conditions
  • performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • analysing test results
  • developing management plans
  • provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients.

The video playlist below published by Health Education England shows case studies of Physician Associates working in general practice.

While physician associates can work in specialties and subspecialties, and may become very established in a specific specialty, they need to maintain general medical knowledge and to demonstrate this by passing a recerti cation exam every 6 years. It is a versatile role that can cover mental health, general practice and a large number of hospital specialties.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is the educative means of updating, developing and enhancing the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to work safely and effectively as a physician associate. All physician associates are currently required to fulfil CPD requirements to remain on the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR) which is to be audited by the FPA in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians using the CPD diary .

The Faculty of Physician Associates requires documented evidence of members CPD as an essential component of the information needed to remain on the PAMVR. This evidence is required, under membership of the FPA, to be documented in the members’ RCP CPD diary. All physician associates are currently required to complete 50 hours of CPD per year. Further information can be found in the CPD guidance for physician associates below.

Download the guidance for physician associates

Look out for CPD accredited events on the RCP website – you can search for your local area and specialty. Also available are a number of RCP live-streamed events, which are available to view from the RCP’s Live Streaming page.  Members of the Faculty of Physician Associates and the RCP can access the members-only archive, where one can access cutting-edge educational content from leading medical experts.