Primary Care Physician Associate (PA) Preceptorship

With the expansion of new roles to primary care. It is important that these new roles are supported in general practice. South Yorkshire Training hub run an educational preceptorship programme for Physician Associates new to general practice.

The Primary Care PA Preceptorship is a tailored education and development programme for newly-qualified physician associates who are starting their careers in general practice.

The preceptorship provides training, support and guidance to help PAs transition from students to confident and clinically sound autonomous practitioners.

It is a free two-year programme available for any PA new to general practice including those moving from secondary care.

Who can apply for the PA Preceptorship Programme?

Any South Yorkshire GP practice or PCN employing a newly qualified physician associate in a substantive role (salaried or fixed-term contract, minimum term 2 years.)


What is the cost of the PA Preceptorship Programme?

This is a free two-year programme, provided at no cost to employers and there is a potential £5,000 funding available for those attending the preceptorship.

What is the course content?

The PA Preceptorship Scheme is a 2-year, holistic, weekly educational programme. It has been carefully designed and matched with the RCGP curriculum to ensure that it equips PAs with the knowledge, skills, and competencies to compliment on the job experience to help those new to practice integrate to general practice. The programme encases a broad range of topics that focuses on common clinical scenarios, consultation skills and a wider understanding of primary care.
The programme uses a blended learning approach of online and face-to-face with an emphasis on case based teaching. The programme is underpinned by a commitment to multidisciplinary teaching with a focus on developing a community of practice for Physician Associates within the region.

Recruiting a PA in Primary Care

One of the best ways of recruiting a Physician Associate is by hosting a student PA on placement during their postgraduate degree. University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University both have extensive placements in primary care. This is a great way to embed them into the running of how the practice works and a seamless transition when starting their job. These are paid at a competitive weekly rate, for more information on hosting a PA please contact the hub.

For a wider recruitment policy, consider the NHS jobs website or Local LMC bulletins. The hub can also use its social media channel to promote jobs. There are also occasionally HEE run recruitment events where potential employers are welcome to attend.

Best time of year to recruit PAs

In terms of recruitment cycles there are three main periods of the year when PAs conduct their national exams, which is the final step from qualification. These are in January, May, and September. With the most trainee PAs undertaking their exams in the January and September period. To maximise the opportunity to get the greatest number of candidates, it would be beneficial to co-ordinate the timings when students may be looking for posts.

The following local universities finish their courses during the period below:

Sheffield Hallam University – Winter
University of Sheffield – Summer
University of Leeds – Summer
University of Bradford – Summer
University of Hull/York – Summer

For more information on exact dates, please check with the Faculty of Physician Associates who have the up-to-date timetables.

Job Descriptions/Person Specifications

The Faculty of Physician Associates webpage has some useful information, including an example job description and person specification, which you may find helpful.

Salary Expectations

As all PA courses are at a Postgraduate (Masters/PGDip) level, it is worth noting that there is an expectation that PAs should be employed at an AFC Band 7 equivalent salary (£40,057) as a starting point, and this is what the ARRS in Primary Care allows for.

All acute NHS Trusts advertise for PAs at this banding as do most Primary Care employ.


Student PAs and Qualified PAs are covered under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice operated by NHS Resolution – see link below.

Additional, private, cover through for example the MDU, MPS or MDDUS may also be advisable depending on the physician associates’ roles and duties. Many group policies do cover PAs – please check with your indemnity provider.


PA are classed as dependent practitioners, so will need access to a named clinical supervisor. In most circumstances this is a GP, but this does not need to be a GP Trainer but does need someone with recognised Clinical Supervision training.

At present legislation does not allow PAs to independently prescribe medications but with the anticipated regulation of PAs by the GMC this is likely to change in the future.

It is advised that in the first 3-6 months there is an appropriate level of support and supervision is in place to ensure a smooth transition.

As part of the SY Preceptorship programme we provide guidance on how the clinics may look like in the first few months.

HEE £5,000 Funding for PAs on Preceptorships

HEE are providing £5,000 to support practices who have appointed a PA into their employ who are on a preceptorship. The South Yorkshire GP Physician Associate Preceptorship Programme will satisfy this eligibility factor.

Other conditions also apply and must be met which can be found within An Employer’s Guide to Physician Associates.

Relevant resources for practices looking to recruit PA can be found on the Faculty of Physician Associates website.