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.
Matthew Aiello is an urgent and acute workforce transformation specialist for Health Education England's West Midlands office in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Karen A. Roberts is program director of the master of science in Physician Associate Studies at St. George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, reader in PA Studies, and chair of the UK PA national examination for the Faculty of Physician Associates. The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.
Acknowledgment: This paper was supported by NHS Health Education England. The authors would like to thank their colleagues from the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians; Tamara Ritsema, MPH, MMSc, PA-C; James Parle, MD, MBChB, DRCOG, FRCGP, professor and course director of the PA program at the University of Birmingham; David Kuhns, PA-C, CCPA, MPH, DFAAPA, previously director of the physician associate program at the RCSI School of Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; and Roderick S. Hooker, PhD, MBA, PA, for assistance with this manuscript.
Ruth Ballweg, MPA, PA; Reamer L. Bushardt, PharmD, PA-C, DFAAPA; and Tanya Gregory, PhD, anniversary series editors