What is a physician associate?

Physician associates are healthcare professionals who, whilst not a doctor, are trained to the medical model and have a general medical knowledge which enables them to diagnose and manage a variety of different healthcare conditions. They are able to work within primary care and within a range of specialities within secondary care including general medicine, paediatrics, surgery, obs and gynae and mental health.

Although Physician associates are dependent practitioners, they are able to work autonomously and make independent decisions in line with their level of competency. There should however be a senior doctor who acts as a supervisor, should they need to discuss a case or seek further advice and guidance.


What do physician associates do?

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). *

*However, it is anticipated PA will be able to prescribe and request ionising radiation in the years following regulation.


PAs are set to be regulated by the GMC by the end of 2024. Currently PAs are managed on a voluntary register, under the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA), more information about PAs and the FPA can be found on the FPA website


Other PA pages on our site:

Qualified Physician Associates - information for qualified PAs

PA preceptorship offer - information for employers applying for the HEE PA preceptorship offer which is available for newly qualified PAs

Supervising PA preceptees - information for supervision requirements for supervising a PA preceptee

CPD opportunities and upcoming events for PAs - in this section you will see the latest events and CPD opportunities available for qualified PAs in our region. 


Please scroll down this page to find out more information on our PA ambassadors as well as for useful links and resources. 


Meet our PA ambassadors

We have recruited five physician associate (PA) ambassadors. Their roles are designed to address local service need and the national imperative to increase the primary care PA workforce. The aim is for the role to assist the recruitment, retention, and integration of PAs into multi-professional primary and secondary care teams. They will work across the north east and north Cumbria integrated care system and with the faculty of advanced practice and primary care training hub.


Nicola Gilbey, secondary care, South Tyneside and Sunderland

·     Mapping the PA workforce

·     Establishing a PA community of practice

·     Increasing PA job opportunities and retention within NEN


Rebecca Fraser, secondary care, Lane End Surgery

·     Raising awareness and role promotion regionally

·     Supporting students and newly qualified PAs in clinical practice

·     Developing regional CPD opportunities and event


We would love to hear from you. If you have any exciting work to showcase, upcoming CPD opportunities or would like to share a case study please get in touch.


Useful links and resources:

Join the community of qualified PAs in our region through social media:

Twitter: NENC_PAs

Facebook: Physician associates – north east and north Cumbria


If you would like more information on anything you have seen on our website, please do not hesitate to get in touch via:

Email: england.advancedpractice.ne@nhs.net 


Resources for all PAs:

PA  ambassador newsletter - December 2023

PA ambassador newsletter - March 2023

PA ambassador newsletter - July 2022

GMC regulation page


Resources for PAs in primary care:

HEE primary care preceptee PA quick reference guide 2022