First in south east to offer training to become a physician associate

27 October 2015

Canterbury Christ Church University is to be the first university in the South East (excluding London) to introduce a programme to train physician associates.

The role is relatively new within the NHS, but has become intrinsic to US healthcare, where it was introduced nearly 50 years ago in response to a shortage of primary care physicians following the Vietnam War when many servicemen and women returned with clinical skills that they wanted to continue to use.

An ageing population within the UK, with more complex and chronic needs, and a national recruitment crisis of qualified doctors both in general practice and in secondary care, has led to Christ Church, working in collaboration with Health Education Kent Surrey and Sussex and Universities across Kent, Surrey and Sussex to respond to the crisis.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently announced that 1,000 physician associates will be available to work in general practice by September 2020 and that this would be a cost effective way of addressing the increasing demands on the NHS.

The physician associate programme at Christ Church, in partnership with the University of Kent, is also the result of a formal request from Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex to develop a Postgraduate Diploma in Physician Associate Studies (PGDip in PAS).

The physician associate will work alongside doctors in a variety of fields such as paediatrics, surgery, general adult medicine, emergency medicine or general practice.

They will be trained to take a patient's history, perform physical examinations and interpret diagnostic test results. They can also diagnose illnesses, develop treatment plans and perform therapeutic procedures.

Peter Milburn, Director of the Institute of Medical Science at Christ Church, said: "In the UK there are currently around 250 physician associates. Studies have concluded that physician associates have an integral part to play in the development and delivery of a safe, effective health and social care workforce in the future.

"The physician associate is an exciting new prospect for graduate scientists looking for a rewarding career within the NHS. They will work alongside doctors to boost the number of healthcare professionals and carry out key duties, at a time when the NHS is in need of extra professionals.

"Christ Church has a proud history of responding to the ever changing demands of our public services, for the benefit of our communities, and we are pleased to be one of a handful of institutions to be able to offer this innovative training programme."

The University is offering places on the two-year full-time programme, starting in April 2016* at the University’s Medway Campus. Graduates must have a first degree with a 2:1 or a relevant subject in the life sciences, such as Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Sports Science, Biochemistry or Pharmacy.

For more information please come along to an open evening on Thursday, 29 October, 6-8pm, at the University’s Medway Campus. Book your place.

*Subject to Validation

Notes to Editor

  • There are four programmes being setup across Kent, Surrey and Sussex at Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Kent, Brighton and Sussex Medical School and University of Surrey.
  • The programmes are supported with funding from Health Education England.
  • Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust are the largest single of employer and placement provider of physician associates in the region. They are integral to the development of each of the programmes and are assisting the Universities in the development of quality programmes.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With almost 18,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.

*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

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Last edited: 05/12/2017 02:48:00