Physician Associates in Paediatrics

Pivotal to achieving improved child health and service experience is a united, multi-professional workforce. Multidisciplinary teams are an effective way of bringing together professionals and diverse talent, knowledge and experience in a cohesive manner with the aim of achieving better child health outcomes. Physician Associates are an integral part of a multidisciplinary team.

On this page you will find resources related to Physician Associates, including video interviews, reports and events.
Last modified
4 March 2021

You can read more on the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) website (part of the Royal College of Physicians).

Who are Physician Associates?

Physician Associates (PAs) are collaborative healthcare professionals with a generalist medical education, who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. They are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated supervisor, but are able to work autonomously with appropriate support.

PAs are scheduled for statutory regulation by the General Medical Council (GMC) estimated to take place in 2021/2022. This may see duties of PAs expand to cover prescriptive rights and requesting of x-rays/ other ionising radiation requests.

What can Physician Associates do?

The following lists a series of duties which PAs can undertake:

  • 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, PAs are not able to carry out the following:

  • Prescribe
  • Request ionising radiation (eg chest x-ray or CT scan).

Note: The above duties may change with GMC regulation.

What are a paediatrician’s responsibilities when working with Physician Associates?

You can view an employer's guide to PAs.

It is important to write a clear job plan to allow both employer and PAs to understand what is expected of them. The job plan should indicate hours of work, opportunities for development and required duties. It is also critical to ensure that all team members have an understanding of the PA role and their scope of practice.

See information from the British Medical Association on PAs.

Good Medical Practice guidance from the GMC includes a series of useful information including the responsibility of doctors when delegating.

You can also find further information on delegation and referral as part of the GMC’s ethical guidance.

Physician Associate Events and Reports

Below are details of events which the RCPCH Workforce Team conducted. Each event has an associated report attached which can be accessed from the respective links provided.

In February 2020, we invited ACPs and PAs from across the country to attend the ‘Paediatric workforce: Advanced Clinical Practitioners and Physician Associates’ event at the RCPCH office. The aim of the event was to provide a learning and networking experience for the attendees and for the College.

Eager to not let the COVID-19 pandemic pose a barrier in the progression of this important area and work, we proceeded in launching our next event online in October 2020 with the aim of providing a platform for learning and discussion dedicated to the PA profession. Holding the event virtually was a different experience in comparison to the one held in person and it provided many more attendees the opportunity to join and participate. Over 220 participants across the UK registered for the event which was held in two parts: a morning of presentations and an afternoon of workshops.

Read full report from the event

Access resources from the event

Our RCPCH Officer for Workforce Planning Dr Nic Jay and colleagues have published a report where they set out to understand if the current mature and proven use of PAs in the USA can be translated into the UK paediatric workforce. To do this the colleagues visited sites and departments in the USA. The main aims of the project were to gain an insight into the following: 

  1. Safety and quality of the model 
  2. Translation of the model 
  3. Sustainability and stability of the model 
  4. Economic viability of the model 
  5. Education

This report can be accessed via the downloads section at the bottom of this webpage.

Video interviews

These interviews in the below video were recorded during the RCPCH Advanced Clinical Practitioners and Physician Associates Event. In this interview, PAs give us an insight into their respective careers. Questions covered included:

  • What encouraged you to chose your respective career path
  • Why paediatrics
  • What a typical day/ week looks like
  • What do you enjoy about the role
  • What are your hopes for the future in your role

Register to keep up to date

Keep up to date with our PA-related work, including mailings, updates and events - sign up for communications

What if I have further questions?

You can email the Faculty of Physician Associates at fpa@rcplondon.ac.uk or contact the RCPCH Workforce team on workforce@rcpch.ac.uk.

Please note that the RCPCH is represented on the Faculty of Physician Associate by Dr Nicola Jay, Officer for Workforce Planning.