Physician Associate Role in Primary Care

Many routine conditions can be directed to the Physician Associate (PA) which frees up GPs to deal with more complex and multi-morbidity patients.

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

PAs can broaden the capacity of the GP role and skill mix within the practice team to help address the needs of patients.

PAs can provide continuity of care for patients with long term conditions.

PAs have a flexible role which can lead to opportunities for training to develop specialist care.

What can a Physician Associate do in General Practice?

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 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 weekend.