23 May

Top 5 tips for newly qualified Physician Associates

Top 5 tips for newly qualified Physician Associate students to consider when looking for opportunities in Primary Care

By Rohan Fletcher

Physician Associate opportunities

As a Physician Associate student, soon to graduate, there are a lot of things to think about when looking to secure your first role within Primary Care.

Making sure that you make the right decision from the start will enable you to start your career on a very positive note and will hopefully avoid any issues and unforeseen surprises further down the line.

In this article I will look at some of the main things to consider as a newly qualified PA to make that transition into a career in Primary Care as smooth as possible.

Have they had Physician Associates before and do they have an awareness of the role and know how best to utilise PAs?

For your first role as a qualified Physician Associate, it is very important to understand this fully. Some practices have stronger backgrounds that others when it comes to working with PAs and some know much better how best to utilise a PA and where you fit in within the rest of the MDT.

Some practices have been working with PAs for a number of years and fully understand what you can bring to the table, others haven’t, however, and are a bit more hesitant about introducing PAs to the team, which can lead to some blurred lines as to how you fit in with the rest of the team. As a consultancy, we have spoken to Physician Associate who have experienced issues in the past when they have been employed as the first PA at a practice and the surgery hasn’t had a full understanding of how best to utilise the role correctly.

Some of which have been left with more admin responsibilities and passed the jobs nobody else wants to do rather than being utilised as a clinician who can see the acute, on the day appointments as well as long term conditions. This is not the start that anyone wants to have to their career, so it is best to establish this as much as possible from the very start.


Does the practice or PCN offer CPD?

A very important aspect for many clinicians is the opportunity for CPD. PAs often have specific CPD requirements as part of the role and some practices have more structured CPD times blocked out than others.

It is therefore important that this is well understood and that the required CPD time is available. Again, it will likely come down to how well practices and PCNs understand the role and making sure that the sufficient CPD time is provided.


Are you expected to cover multiple sites?

This is an important consideration for most clinicians as working across too many locations can often be unattractive to individuals and can cause long term frustration with constant variables from practice to practice. If employed directly by a practice then the role would more than likely be based at one practice, with potential for a single day at a branch site if the practice has one.

However, if the role is with a PCN there will be a much higher likelihood that there will be an expectation to work across multiple sites. Whilst this is also good experience and offers the opportunity to see and work with different practice teams, the number of sites that you are expected to work between can sometimes become too much.

A PA I spoke to last year was working for a PCN across 10 practices and working a half day at each one. Whilst this constant change of scenery might be fine for some, its certainly not for everyone and it is definitely something to give some thought to before applying to a role, especially if you are looking to settle into a practice or PCN and get to know the team.


Is enhanced access a requirement?

This varies practice to practice, some don’t require any and others look for a set amount each week. Some expect a late evening once per week for example and some may expect weekends on a rota basis.

This is definitely something to give some thought to as enhanced access is often a requirement rather than being voluntary so make sure that this wont conflict with any other responsibilities that you may have that are fixed.


Reputation of the practice.

Doing your research in advance and making sure that you are applying to practices or PCNs with strong reputations is very important. CQC history and QOF scores can give a strong indication as to how well a practice is performing and in turn, how they may be as an employer.

Make sure to read the reports, however, and not just take the CQC score on face value. A recent example of this is a practice that was marked as Requires Improvement. They had got the score due to some paperwork inconsistencies; but were a very good employer and looked after their staff well.


So, how can we help you?

As a specialist consultancy, we can offer all the above information and more in one phone call for the practices and PCNs that we work with.

If you are looking to explore new opportunities contact us! If you’re a newly qualified Physician Associate or a more experienced clinician then make sure to get in touch. Call us on 0113 350 1308 and the team will do our best to help. You can also contact us through our website here.




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