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FPA launches 'An employer's guide to physician associates'

The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published An employer’s guide to physician associates, a guide that enables healthcare providers (including acute hospital trusts, community trusts, and primary care organisations) to understand the role of the physician associate (PA), their scope of practice, and how to employ a PA. 

It is a resource intended to advise employers on: 

  • the current education and regulatory framework for the profession
  • employment and supervision
  • tools to help guide appraisal, career and salary progression
  • recommendations for continuing professional development (CPD).

To ensure that the guidance reaches those who will most benefit from the information, the RCP is sending the guidance out to its external stakeholders including NHS Providers, NHS Confederation, medical directors and CEOs of trusts, and a wide range of specialty societies among others.

Jane Dacre, president of the RCP, said: 

One of the reasons that the RCP decided to establish the FPA was to ensure that the expansion of this new section of the medical workforce was done as safely and effectively as possible, particularly pending formal regulation.

The RCP is committed to strengthening the relationship between doctors and physician associates. We hope that An Employer’s guide to physician associates will help employers, commissioners and workforce planners understand physician associates, when to employ them, how they can best be used for the benefit of the wider team and to improve the provision of patient care. 

Jeannie Watkins, president of the FPA, said: 

The physician associate profession is a growing and evolving one. We estimate that there will be just under 600 qualified physician associates in the UK by the end of the year. This is expected to grow to up to 3,200 by 2020. 

Physician associates, in addition to existing members of the healthcare team, are here to add value, capacity and generalist skills to the clinical teams providing care for patients across primary and secondary care. This guidance will not only help employers to introduce physician associates to their teams, but also retain PA’s by supporting them to progress and succeed.  

The launch of An employer’s guide to physician associates coincides with the FPA’s second National Annual CPD Conference taking place on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 September, at which Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, junior doctors trainee committee chair at the BMA, will be delivering the opening plenary. 

The FPA helps to guide and support employers who employ PAs or are looking to employ them in the future. The faculty is currently reviewing and updating its employer guidance document, and the previous guidance is no longer available to download. If you're an employer with a specific question or query, please get in touch with us via fpa@rcp.ac.uk for support during this time.*

*Updated June 2023.

Notes to editors

For any enquiries please contact Hannah Prime, communications adviser: 

About the FPA 

The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) provides professional support to physician associates across the UK. FPA members are part of a professional membership body campaigning for progress and change in the profession, advising government, and taking part in national debates on medical, clinical and public health issues.

The FPA reviews and sets standards for:

  • the education and training of physician associates
  • accreditation of university programmes and
  • physician associate national certification and recertification examinations.

It also provides support to both qualified and student physician associates in their education, training and professional development, giving members access to a benefits package that includes a CPD diary, publications, library resources, and discounts on professional development courses and events.

The FPA oversees and administers the running of the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR) and is campaigning to achieve statutory registration of the profession.