Everything you need to know about working as a UK physician associate 

Physician associates are collaborative healthcare professionals with a generalist medical education, who work alongside doctors, GPs and surgeons to provide medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. Physician associates are dependent practitioners who typically work with a dedicated supervisor. They’re also able to work independently with the appropriate support.

The physician associate will work collaboratively with the healthcare team to meet the needs of the patients, supporting the delivery of policy and procedures. The Physician Associate will provide a holistic and clinical service, with support from GPs as required, implementing agreed management plans and following approved protocols as appropriate.

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Physician associate’s role and responsibilities

  • Carry out physical examinations
  • See patients with long-term chronic conditions
  • Take medical histories from patients
  • See patients with undifferentiated diagnoses
  • Formulate differential diagnoses and management plans
  • Develop and deliver appropriate treatment and management plans
  • Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients
  • Request and interpret diagnostic studies (except those involving ionising radiation)

However, it should be noted that physician associates are not able to:

  • Prescribe
  • Request ionising radiation (e.g. chest X-ray or CT scan)
  • Provide care or treatments to patients in an unsupervised setting.

Where can physician associates work?

As a physician associate, you’re likely to work in multiple environments, including:

  • Acute medical units
  • Emergency departments
  • In primary and secondary care
  • GP surgeries
  • Home visits
  • Private clinics

What qualifications does a physician associate need?

To practise as a physician associate in the UK, you’ll need to have:

  • At least a bachelor’s degree, usually in a life-science field, biomedical science or a health-related science degree
  • At least a 2:1 honour degree for entry into the postgraduate diploma course
  • Prior health or social care experience

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What is a physician associate’s salary?

  • Band 7: £43,742 to £50,056
  • Band 8a: £50,952 to £57,349
  • Band 8b: £58,972 to £68,525

The newly qualified physician associate post has been evaluated under Agenda for Change at band 7. Higher-level physician associates (usually requiring a minimum of 5 years’ experience and a relevant master’s degree) have been banded at 8a. 

Please note that physician associates working in and around London may qualify for Higher Cost Area Supplements (HCAS) rates. You can find HCAS pay scales on NHS Employers

Working as a locum physician associate

Working as a locum Physician Associate can differ from a full-time role in the following ways:

  • 6-12+ month contracts available
  • Work weekends and evenings for enhanced rates
  • High expectations on a locum to come in and hit the ground running without much training and/or supervision
  • Gain experience using different computer systems and settings
  • Tend to avoid bureaucracy
  • Greater flexibility with hours
  • Paid per hour worked
  • Increased rate
  • 1 weeks’ notice if you wish is to try a different role
  • Weekly payments

Locum physician associate pay rates

  • Band 7: £29-33 per hour
  • Band 8A: £33-37 per hour
  • Band 8b: £36-40 per hour

Physician associate opportunities with Pulse

To become a physician associate or find a new role, search and apply to physician associate jobs on our site or register your interest with Pulse.

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