Role Description & Competencies: Physician Associate


Physician Associates are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals, who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team. Physician Associates are dependent practitioners, working with a dedicated medical supervisor, but they are able to work autonomously with appropriate support. 

Physician Associates (PAs) are relatively new members of the clinical team, seen as complementary to GPs rather than a substitute. 

What are the benefits of having a Physician Associate in the team? 

  • Many routine conditions can be directed to the Physician Associate, which frees up GPs to deal with more complex and multi-morbidity patients
  • Physician Associates can broaden the capacity of the GP role and skill mix within the practice team to help address the needs of patients
  • Can provide continuity of care for patients with long term conditions
  • Flexible role which can lead to opportunities for training to develop specialist care

What can a Physician Associate do in General Practice?

The Physician Associate will be on the Voluntary Register held by the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA)

Some of the skills that the Physician Associate will be able to demonstrate safely are:

  • Taking medical histories from patients
  • Carrying out physical examinations
  • Seeing patients with undifferentiated diagnoses
  • Seeing patients with long-term chronic conditions
  • Formulating differential diagnoses and management plans
  • Performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Requesting and interpreting diagnostic studies
  • Providing health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients
  • Developing & delivering appropriate treatment and management plans
  • Triaging patients
  • Making referrals
  • Teaching and supervising students on placement

Due to the lack of statutory regulation, PAs cannot currently prescribe medications or request ionising radiation.

It is best practice in the UK for Physician Associates to have Professional Indemnity (Malpractice) insurance. Currently, the Medical Protection Society (MPS) & Medical Defence Union (MDU) will provide professional indemnity for PAs working in General Practice. The cost of this coverage is usually paid for by the employer. 

What is the maximum reimbursable amount for primary care organisations to recruit this role?

£53,724 over 12 months (2020-21)

What is the recommended salary for a Physician Associate?

In general practice, a PA’s salary can be negotiated, although there is a suggested range:

  • new graduates (up to 2 years postgraduate): £30,000– £34,000
  • 2–5 years post-qualification: £34,000–£40,000
  • 5+ years: £40,000 upwards.

This is for a 37.5–40-hour working week, and would include out of hours and weekends.

Is there any additional support available to support the recruitment of Physician Associates into General Practice?

Please visit the Initiatives/ Support available link at the bottom of this page to find out more. 

What are Physician Associates trained to do?

PAs trained in the UK have undertaken postgraduate medical training in Physician Associate studies. These studies are spread over a period of at least 90 weeks with a 50:50 split between theory and clinical practice. The PA course is an intensive 2-year course based on the Competence And Curriculum Framework for the PA, consisting of theoretical learning in medical sciences, pharmacology and clinical reasoning, as well as a clinical placement experience. 

Download the Standards of Proficiency for PAs here:

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