15 February 2021by Daniel Hitchens

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Everything you need to know about working as a UK physician associate

Physician associates are collaborative healthcare professionals with a generalist medical education, who work alongside doctors, GPs and surgeons providing medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. Physician associates are dependent practitioners who typically work with a dedicated supervisor, but are also able to work independently with the appropriate support.

The Physician Associate will work collaboratively with the healthcare team to meet the needs of the patients, supporting the delivery of policy and procedures. The Physician Associate will provide a holistic and clinical service, with support from GPs as required, implementing agreed management plans and following approved protocols as appropriate.

Physician associates role and responsibilities:

  • carry out physical examinations

  • see patients with long-term chronic conditions

  • take medical histories from patients

  • see patients with undifferentiated diagnoses

  • formulate differential diagnoses and management plans

  • develop and deliver appropriate treatment and management plans

  • perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

  • provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients

  • request and interpret diagnostic studies (except those involving ionising radiation)

However, it should be noted that physician associates are not able to:

  • prescribe

  • request ionising radiation (eg chest X-ray or CT scan)

  • provide care or treatments to patients in an unsupervised setting.

Where can physician associates work?

As a physician associate, you are likely to work in multiple environments, including:

  • Acute medical units

  • Emergency departments

  • In primary and secondary care

  • GP surgeries

  • Home visits

  • Private clinics

What qualifications does a physician associate need?

To practise as a physician associate in the UK, you will need to have:

  • At least a bachelor’s degree, usually in a life-science field. This can include (biomedical science or a health-related science degree).

  • At least a 2:1 honour degree for entry into the postgraduate diploma course

  • Prior health or social care experience

What is a physician associate’s salary?

  • Band 7: £38,890 - £44,503

  • Band 8a: £45,753 - £51,668

  • Band 8b: £53,168 – £62,001

The newly qualified physician associate post has been evaluated under Agenda for Change at band 7. Higher-level physician associates (usually requiring a minimum of 5 years’ experience and a relevant master’s degree) have been banded at 8a.

Working as a locum physician associate

  • Band 7: £29-33

  • Band 8A: £33-37

  • Band 8b: £36-£40

Working as a locum Physician Associate can differ from a full-time role in the following ways:

  • 6-12+ month contracts available

  • Can work weekends and evenings for enhanced rates

  • High expectations on a locum to come in and hit the ground running without a huge amount of training and/or supervision

  • You can pick where you want to work and what area of Physiology you want to work in

  • Gain experience using different computer systems and settings

  • Tend to avoid bureaucracy

  • Greater flexibility with hours

  • Paid per hour worked

  • Increased rate

  • 1 weeks’ notice if you wish is to try a different role

  • Weekly payments

How to become a physician associate

To become a physician associate, the first step is to register with Maxxima. Here, you will be asked to send in your CV – and complete the necessary compliance steps in order to finish your application.

If you have any further questions about becoming a physician associate, or what a physician associate does, get in touch today