• Physician Associates

Why Do We Need Physician Associates?

Physician Associates have many skills to that can support and benefit primary care. Physician associates are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals, who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. Physician associates are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated medical supervisor, but are able to work autonomously with appropriate support.

Education Pathways to Qualification

Physician associates undergo two years (full-time) postgraduate training based on the Competence and Curriculum Framework for physician associates (DoH 2012).

Training consists of intensive theoretical learning in medical sciences, pharmacology and clinical reasoning as well as over 1400 hours of clinical placement experience in community and acute care settings.

As a result of their training, physician associates are flexible and adaptable healthcare professionals with a strong medical foundation.

To find out which universities offer courses for Physician Associate Studies, please click here.


Newly qualified physician associates also qualify for preceptorships supported by Frimley Training Hub. Please click here to find out more information about this.

Scope of Practice

Physician associates work within a defined scope of practice and limits of competence. They:

  • Take medical histories from patients
  • Carry out physical examinations
  • See patients with undifferentiated diagnoses
  • See patients with long-term chronic conditions
  • Formulate differential diagnoses and management plans
  • Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Develop and deliver appropriate treatment and management plans
  • Request and interpret diagnostic studies
  • Provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients.

Currently, physician associates are not able to:

  • Prescribe
  • Request ionising radiation (eg chest x-ray or CT scan).


The job description for physician associates is available here.

Case Studies

A number of case studies from Physician Associates and their mentors are available here, including from Dr Sarah Greenwood, a mentor to a newly-qualified Physician Associate in Thames Valley.


A Day in the Life of a Physician Associate in General Practice: A GPs Perspective.