Development of the United Kingdom physician associate profession

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Abstract

The world of healthcare is changing, and patient needs are changing with it. Traditional doctor-driven models of workforce planning are no longer sustainable in the United Kingdom (UK) healthcare economy, and newer models are needed. In the multiprofessional, multiskilled clinical workforce of the future, the physician associate (PA) has a fundamental role to play as an integrated, frontline, generalist clinician. As of 2016, about 350 PAs were practicing in the UK, with 550 PAs in training and plans to expand rapidly. This report describes the development of the PA profession in the UK from 2002, with projections through 2020, and includes governance, training, and the path to regulation. With rising demands on the healthcare workforce, the PA profession is predicted to positively influence clinical workforce challenges across the UK healthcare economy.

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