Physician Associate Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Physician Associate, or Physician Assistant supports Physicians with the diagnosis and management of patients in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Their duties include working directly with patients to diagnose medical conditions, performing medical procedures and developing treatment plans.


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Physician Associate duties and responsibilities

Physician Associates care for patients with a variety of short- and long-term health conditions. They refer patients to Physicians for prescriptions and radiation treatments such as chest x-rays. Their daily duties and responsibilities can include:

  • Preparing and updating patients’ records.
  • Conducting physical examinations of patients and performing medical procedures.
  • Ordering blood and other medical tests as required and analysing the results.
  • Developing a relationship with patients and providing them with information on healthy living and disease prevention.
  • Creating treatment plans for diagnosed patients.
  • Assisting Physicians when requested to do so.
  • Referring patients to Specialists.
  • Establishing rapport with patients and encouraging them to talk candidly and frankly


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What does a Physician Associate do?

Physician Associates are practitioners who work with a dedicated  Medical Supervisor. They can work independently with appropriate support from Physicians, or as part of a medical team in a hospital, healthcare facility or at a Physician’s surgery. They help with Physicians’ workload by handling patients’ appointments. They also examine and diagnose patients before developing treatment plans to manage the health of the patients. 


Physician Associate skills and qualifications

Physician Associates need to have excellent written and verbal communication skills as they work with Physicians and patients. A successful Physician Associate candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that typically include:

  • Confidence and ability to work independently
  • Thorough knowledge of medicine and biology
  • Proficiency in the use of computers and popular medical software packages, such as EHR and EMR programs
  • Sensitivity and understanding when working with patients
  • Outstanding problem-solving and analytical skills to process and interpret information accurately
  • The ability to deal with criticism and to perform well under pressure
  • The ability and willingness to work hard, as Physician Associates often work long hours mostly on their feet


Physician Associate experience requirements

An entry-level Physician Associate must have prior health experience in a clinical setting. They must also have  a licence to practise. Some employers prefer candidates who have two years of experience as a Physician Associate or Nurse.  For senior Physician Associate positions, candidates may be required to have a minimum of three to five years of experience.  


Physician Associate education and training requirements

Candidates must have an undergraduate degree in sciences, such as biology, biomedical science or chemistry. Employers prefer candidates who have completed a postgraduate Physician Associate diploma or a master’s degree. Candidates must also have a Physician Associate degree apprenticeship resulting in a master’s level postgraduate qualification. Candidates must have passed a national examination and should be members of the Royal College of Physicians and the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register. Physician Associates need to complete 50 hours of continuous professional development annually and pass a renewal examination every six years.


Physician Associate salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Physician Associate in the UK is £25,961 per year. The salary level varies depending on the hospital or healthcare facility, the location and the years of experience required. 


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Physician Associate job description FAQs


Can Physician Associates specialise in specific clinical fields or services?

After gaining several years of experience, Physician Associates can continue working in general practice or emergency care. They can also specialise in specific clinical fields such as mental health or paediatric care. Physician Associates with the appropriate training, can offer specialised services focussed on family planning, asthma or diabetes. 


What is the difference between a Physician Associate and a Nurse Practitioner?

Physician Assistants focus on the direct and immediate treatment of patients. Nurse Practitioners focus on prevention, education and wellness. Some Nurse Practitioners may be licenced to work without the supervision of a Physician, whereas Physician Associates always work under the supervision of a Physician. 


How can you make a Physician Associate job description stand out?

Provide an overview of your practice or healthcare facility’s reputation and culture in the medical sector, to make the job stand out. Cover the requirements for the specific skills and knowledge required for the position. Also, specify whether the position is in a specialised clinical field, such as emergency care or mental health.


What should you look for in a Physician Associate CV?

Look for candidates that have the specific clinical skills or knowledge required for the position. Candidates’ CVs need to reflect the ability to provide diagnostic and therapeutic care to patients. Look for CVs from candidates who have received awards for excellent patient care.

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