National Physician Associate Week - 4th-8th October 2021

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This week (Monday 4 October – Friday 8 October) is Physician Associate (PA) Week.

PA week aims to raise awareness of the profession. It’s also a time to showcase and celebrate PAs – what they do, why they do it, and how fantastically it’s done.

We're proud of our Physician Associates for everything that they do!

Our Physician Associates would like to provide you with information and would also like to share with you what their background, experiences and future plans 

What is a Physician Associate?

Physician Associates are healthcare professionals with a generalist medical education, who work alongside doctors, physicians, GPs, and surgeons providing medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team.

Physician Associates are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated supervisor, but are able to work autonomously with appropriate support.

What do Physician Associates do?

Physician Associates work within a defined scope of practice and limits of competence.They:

•    take medical histories from patients

•    carry out physical examinations

•    see patients with undifferentiated diagnoses

•    see patients with long-term chronic conditions

•    formulate differential diagnoses and management plans

•    perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

•    develop and deliver appropriate treatment and management plans

•    request and interpret diagnostic studies (except those involving ionising radiation)

•    provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients.

Physician Associates are not able to:

•    prescribe

•    request ionising radiation (e.g. chest x-ray or CT scan)

•    provide care or treatments to patients in an unsupervised setting. 
 

What experience do Physician Associates have before training?

All Physician Associates hold at least a bachelor's degree, usually in a life science field (Biomedical Science or a health-related science degree). 

Most Physician Associate programmes require at least a 2:1 honours degree for entry into the postgraduate master’s course along with some prior health or social care experience. 

In addition to their first degree, the prior experience of Physician Associates is diverse ranging from cardiac physiology and psychologists to pharmacists and health educators.

History of Physician Associate

Although the Physician Associate profession is still considered relatively ‘new’ in the UK, the first Physician Associates were formally introduced in 2003. 

The role of Physician Assistant first developed in the US in the 1960s, and equivalent or similar roles exist in many healthcare systems around the world.

What training do Physician Associate Students receive?

2-Year postgraduate course which focuses principally on general adult medicine in hospital and general practice.

Physician Associate Students are expected to complete a minimum of 1400 placement hours as part of their training, which covers:

•    Community Medicine – 510 hours
•    General Hospital Medicine – 350 hours
•    Emergency Medicine – 180 hours
•    General surgery – 90 hours
•    Obstetrics & Gynaecology – 90 hours
•    Paediatrics – 90 hours
•    Mental Health – 90 hours

How can Physician Associates support Physicians and the NHS?

Physician Associates increase the numbers of the medical workforce and increase access to quality care for patients.

They act in an enabling role, helping to reduce the healthcare team’s workload, and bring new talent to the NHS, adding to the skill mix within the teams.

While trainee doctors and surgeons rotate through different specialties, Physician Associates offer continuity and stability both for patients and for the team in which they work.  

Physician Associate support also provides cover so that trainee doctors can attend training, clinic or theatre.


 

Exploring the 6c's

6cs.jpgAs part of Physician Associate Week, second-year MSc Physician Associate Studies University of Chester student, Franz Arnedo, discusses the important role of the 6Cs in this exciting new healthcare profession and how it has helped in his personal development.

Since being at Warrington Hospital for the last year, I have bolstered my understanding of the importance of the 6Cs after interacting with various patients and members of staff.  The 6Cs are a set of traits that the NHS perfectly summarises and insists each healthcare professional should possess to provide high-quality care.

‘The 6Cs provide a set of values for all health and social care staff and help to ensure that everyone is working towards the same common goal. Following the 6Cs provides patients with high quality care and should be the cornerstone of all health and social work.’ (Collier, 2020)

Care

Patients rely on us to provide them with the best possible care, and it is our responsibility to be considerate and always work in their best interest.  
Whenever I talk to patients, I try to gain as much vital information as I can regarding their presenting complaint and associated symptoms.  I would then present and discuss my findings with the doctors, clinical practitioners, and Physician Associates to help contribute to their management.

Compassion

Compassion is about treating people with kindness at every interaction, and it is also important to empathise with the difficulties they are going through and to be able to provide emotional and medical support.  

Competence

Importantly, I would learn how to improve taking histories, carrying out examinations and various procedures from the doctors and Physician Associates.  Then, I would practise these skills myself and discuss my findings with the appropriate investigations and management because I will eventually be in a position to help facilitate their care. 
To continue my personal development, I have also taken the initiative to complete extra online training whilst bearing in mind to apply the knowledge and experience gained from previous placements.

Communication

As a Physician Associate student, I was able to listen to and understand patients’ concerns and transfer their valuable information consistently to doctors and Physician Associates to ensure that we can assess and provide the most appropriate care.

Courage

Courage is important to make sure that everyone gets the quality of care that they deserve, and it means putting the patient first and being brave enough to report when something is wrong. 

Commitment

All the above values can only be achieved by showing commitment to our patients by making their care our priority.  During placements, it was encouraging to see how the 6Cs were applied by Physician Associates and other healthcare professionals, especially during these challenging times, and this experience has motivated me to work towards acquiring the values of the 6Cs. 
As students, we were able to show our commitment by putting in the required hours and completing our portfolio to develop as clinicians.  However, it is important to remember the portfolio should not be taken as a personal achievement but rather a testimony that we are working towards acquiring the values of the 6Cs.
As Physician Associate students, we should take responsibility to continue the good work of Physician Associates by being excellent role models and flying the flag, which will be an essential step towards making this new role a household name in the NHS in the years ahead.

References
Collier, E. (2020, August 12). What are the 6Cs in Care? | Compassion in Practice. Retrieved from The Hub | High Speed
Training website: https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/what-are-the-six-cs/

1st Year Physician Associate Student Profiles
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Katie Willet

Hello, my name is Katie and I am a first year physician associate. Prior to starting this course I completed my undergraduate degree in biomedical science and gained experience in designated COVID wards and volunteering with St John Ambulance. I have always wanted to work within the medical field in a patient facing role, the PA course was perfect for me allowing me to be a generalist clinician in a multi-disciplinary team making a difference with a patient focussed role. 

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Celma Gomes

Hi, my name is Celma and I am a 1st-year Physician Associate Student from University of Chester.  Previously, I studied BSc in Human Biology and Infectious Diseases and MSc in Stem Cells and Regeneration.  
I have always had a passion for patient care.  Once qualified amongst other jobs, I worked as clinical trials coordinator and cord blood collector for stem cells harvesting.  This made me want to join the PA course and improve my skills and knowledge to become part of a multidisciplinary team.  The ability to make a difference, develop a high level of care and compassion, is what attracted me to this career.

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Rizwan Abbasi

Hello, I am Rizwan.  Having a nursing background was helpful initially, especially with the communication aspect in clinical placement.  But what I am enjoying the most as a 1st-year PA student, is a learning curve and opportunities on the way to maximise the knowledge of the medical field and be able to grasp the concepts of how pharmacology influences pathophysiology.  
I feel so blessed and thrilled to be a part of such a profession which offers invaluable clinical experience with massive job satisfaction.

 

2nd Year Physician Associate Student Profiles
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Elizabeth Basson

As a second-year Physician Associate student at Warrington Hospital, I have experienced a wide range of clinical placements.  Currently, I have been enjoying my emergency medicine placement and have found A&E to be an exciting and immensely interesting environment to experience. 
The variability and generalised role that is a Physician Associate is what I was drawn to initially about the role and is what excites me about starting my future career.  My time on placement at Warrington Hospital has enabled me to strengthen my clinical skills and develop my communication style with not only patients but also the wider multidisciplinary team. 
I hope to find a position in general practice, A&E or general surgery once I graduate which will enable me to maintain the broad and comprehensive knowledge that appeals to me about the role.  It is exciting to see the Physician Associate role expand and be a part of the development that will come in the years ahead. 

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Amin Abdullah

Before working towards becoming a PA I studied Biomedical Science, it was not until my final year in my undergraduate study that I discovered the PA role.  Immediately I thought it was an innovative, exciting, and promising role.  I was fortunate enough to land an opportunity to study at the University of Chester where I am now on course to complete the final academic year. 

Throughout my studies I have enjoyed putting the knowledge I have learnt into practice with great supervision at Warrington Hospital, ranging from; A&E to the paediatric ward.
In the future I plan on joining the medical staff at a hospital in A&E whilst incorporating days in general practice.  PAs have the option to specialise and, if the opportunity ever arises in dermatology, I would take this on with great passion whilst retaining general knowledge allowing for the ability to practice in primary and secondary care. 

Overall, I am ambitious to support and plan the implementation of new ways of working, with utilisation the workforce can be created in line with the NHS vision and mandate to further improve patient care and support alongside nurses, doctors, and the rest of the medical team.
 

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Muhammed Israr


I am currently mid-way through my surgical rotation at Warrington Hospital, experiencing the surgical ward rounds and observing the procedures.  I have found this placement particularly rewarding, seeing the patients before the operation and on follow-up during their recovery. 
I have also enjoyed my other second-year clinical placements including paediatrics, obstetrics & gynaecology, and general practice.  My time as a Physician Associate student has taught me valuable skills to improve not only my clinical abilities but also my wider interpersonal skills.  This will be a great aid in my future practise as a qualified Physician Associate. 
After graduation I hope to find a position in secondary care, potentially in general surgery, as I have found this current placement so fulfilling.  I am excited to start a career that can ultimately benefit everyone and work with other skilled and enthusiastic medical professionals. 


 

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Sohail Kareem

My name is Sohail Kareem, and I am a second-year Physician Associate student from the University of Chester.  It has been a wonderful journey so far with full of challenges and successes along the way.  

I remember the very first day of my clinical placement as being frightened and did not know what to expect.  But now when I look back onto my achievements and also the compliments from other medical staff for being a big help and boost to the NHS work force makes me feel so proud of myself. 

My university has been a great help in achieving my goals.  I am doing my surgery rotation now and absolutely enjoying it, which also makes me feel much more confident in myself.  I really want to make my family, tutors, and mentors proud of myself for enjoying what I do.

I just cannot wait to pass my exams and to be a qualified PA and start serving the humanity and contribute towards NHS. 
 

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Lionel Kirubakaran

Coming to the final stretch as a Physician Associate student and taking that leap into qualified medical practitioner is a big step.  My experience at Warrington and Halton NHS Trust has made this possible and fine-tuned my abilities to practise at the highest of standards. 
My experience here has been enjoyable and one for sure made me aware of my interests and pathway to follow.  I thoroughly enjoyed all my placement areas which include Trauma & Orthopaedics, Stroke, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Accident & Emergency and Surgery, alongside other departmental experience.  Each department have been very welcoming and have been keen to teach as well as work with us. 
I specifically enjoyed paediatrics within my time in the hospital and primary care.  I would like to pursue further into this sector in primary care which is where I see myself after registering as a qualified Physician Associate.  I would like to thank all the staff from each department here at Warrington Hospital and our placement coordinator for providing all the opportunities for Physician Associates to flourish.
 

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Franz Arnedo

During the last year at Warrington Hospital, I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement experience where I was surrounded by fantastic teams of healthcare professionals who were willing to develop me as a Physician Associate.  
The staff have been approachable and provided numerous opportunities to bolster my clinical skills.  Importantly, the patients have also given me the opportunity to develop my history-taking, examinations, and various procedures.  From my experience, the patients have been open to letting Physician Associate students practise their clinical skills and are appreciative of the assistance we can provide them.
On multiple occasions, I have been asked about my role by both patients and staff, and I hope I was able to demonstrate through my words and actions that this new role can play a vital part in the healthcare system.