Staffordshire physician associate internship programme celebrates the first cohort of graduates

Physician Associate graduates 2018

North Staffordshire GP Federation (NSGPF) is continuing to lead the way in supporting local practices and other healthcare providers, thanks to a pioneering Physician Associate Internship Programme.

Last month, saw the first cohort of Physician Associates (PAs) from the internship successfully graduate from the one-year programme. The internship provides an opportunity for, predominantly, new PAs to develop skills in primary care with a supported, supervised and (for practices) subsidised scheme. This allows both practices and PAs to learn how they can best work together.       

The RCGP has been working with the Faculty of Physician Associates and our membership, to ensure that physician associates in general practice are safely and effectively integrated into the multidisciplinary team. 

The internship has received visits from various sectors of the NHS keen to replicate the programme. The Internship has a rolling intake of newly qualified Physicians Associates and so far, the cohort total is 11. A further eight PAs have been appointed pending their success in exams.

The teaching element of the internship is primary care focussed. The PAs value the teaching content, which covers a wide based curriculum, and the peer support and networking. A new GP Tutor will join the teaching team to support with the expansion of the internship alongside, senior GP Tutor, Dr Jon Wright and Alex Scrivens-Joyce, PA Ambassador.

The academic evaluation of the internship funded by Health Education England is at a mid point stage which is being undertaken by Dr Lizzie Cottrell, Wolstanton Medical Centre the Keele University Academic Practice and will be finalised early next year. This month, Dr Lizzie Cottrell and Alex Scrivens-Joyce, will present a poster detailing the early findings of this evaluation at the RCGP Conference.

Below are some excerpts from the Patient Feedback Questionnaires which forms part of the evaluation:

“I really appreciated the time taken and the decision for a second opinion.  It showed to me empathy and care. Happy to be seen again; very friendly and nice, made me feel at ease, very easy to talk to and will be more than happy to see.” Patient

“[the PA] explained everything fully and I felt [the PA] was genuine and easy to talk to”; “Felt listened too, given options”; “Listened fully to symptoms, consulted with GP and I felt I was given the same treatment as a GP" Patient

As we see our first cohort of PAs coming to the end of the internship programme, it is hoped further development of the programme will provide a means to encourage an increasing number of qualified PAs to choose primary care as their favoured career choice.


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