Employing Physician Associates

Within expanding multi-disciplinary teams, the Physician Associate can be very beneficial.

As well as being a source of continuity for patients, for whom they can monitor physical as well as mental health requirements, Physician Associates can be a vital link in your team, as capable inducting new junior and foundation doctors as liaising with other departments and specialties, ensuring any reports are acted upon. 

As well as this, Physician Associates can be trained to work at a high level within the team, developing knowledge of assessing and managing mental disorders, undertaking clinical Audit, gaining knowledge about psychotropic medication and taking a lead role in the physical health of mental health patients.

Guidance on employing Physician Associates

If you’re keen to grow your team, we recommend reading the information on recruiting and deploying Physician Associates in the HEE Physician Associate Toolkit. This not only provides a wealth of information on recruitment, but also suggests ways in which Physician Associates can be appropriately trained within their first year to ensure that they are using and developing all their skills to work to a high level within the multidisciplinary team.

How can Physician Associates support your team?

Physician Associates are highly skilled, carrying out a range of duties in multidisciplinary team. They can:

  • take medical and psychiatric histories from patients
  • carry out physical and mental state 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.

Physician Associates can help consultants by:

  • undertaking full psychiatric (and risk) assessments
  • carrying out physical assessments and procedures
  • liaising with other services
  • carrying caseloads under supervision
  • preparing reports and discharge summaries
  • undertaking basic psycho-therapeutic interventions
  • performing service QI and audit activities
  • delivering education of service users and other staff
  • assisting the managing consultant by writing letters, chasing referrals/treatments, and preparing medical notes.

Find more information about Physician Associates' responsibilities.

If you would like to speak to a Trust that has already been through a recruitment process, please contact us

How are Physician Associates supervised?

Supervision of a Physician Associate is like that of a junior doctor, in that the Physician Associate is responsible for their actions and decisions – however, the consultant is ultimately responsible for the patient. The supervisor also has responsibility for ongoing development of the Physician Associate, including review of workplace-based assessments, appraisal and creation of a professional development plan.

Levels of supervision will vary from individual to individual and are dependent on several factors, including their past healthcare experience and years of experience. A new graduate will require much more intensive supervision compared to an experienced Physician Associate. An inceptorship year, where the Trust trains the Physician Associate while they work, is an excellent way of ensuring you are getting the most out of the skills the Physician Associate – there is a model for inceptorships within the HEE Toolkit

Assistant Physician Associates

To ensure departments and teams can cope during the current epidemic, the role of Assistant Physician Associate has been developed. This new role ensures that those who have finished courses but not yet taken the National Exam, or those in their second year of training and have finished their medical placements, can help the NHS.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry