Physician associate

Physician assistant

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Physician associates support doctors to diagnose and manage patients in hospitals and GP surgeries.

Salary range: £30,401 to £43,772

How to become a physician associate

You can get into this career through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


To become a physician associate you need an undergraduate degree in a health or life science subject, for example:

  • biology
  • biomedical science
  • physician associate studies
  • nursing
  • pharmacy
  • chemistry
  • medical therapies

After your degree you can study a 2-year, full-time, postgraduate physician associate diploma or master’s course that is recognised by the Faculty of Physician Associates.

Courses combine the scientific study of general medicine and practical clinical experience. You’ll study:

  • general and community medicine
  • emergency medicine
  • surgery
  • mental health
  • paediatrics
  • obstetrics and gynaecology

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 3 A levels, or equivalent, including at least 1 science
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information


You may be able to do a physician associate degree apprenticeship, leading to a master’s postgraduate level qualification. It will take around 30 to 36 months to complete.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More information


If you’re a qualified and experienced healthcare professional, like a nurse or midwife, you may be able to apply to become a physician associate. You’ll need to take a postgraduate qualification in physician associate studies to do this.

More information

Career tips

You can find vacancies on NHS Jobs and the Royal College of Physicians medical jobs.

Professional and industry bodies

At the end of your course you will sit a national exam and apply for physician associate membership of the Royal College of Physicians. This allows you to join the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR) which proves to employers that you are a fully qualified physician associate.

Further information

You can find out more about training and working as a physician associate from the Royal College of Physicians and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine
  • knowledge of biology
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • active listening skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

Once you’re qualified you have to complete 50 hours of continuous professional development each year and sit a renewal exam every 6 years.

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

You’ll deal directly with adults and children with a wide range of medical conditions. You’ll support the work of the medical team and provide care for patients with long term health problems.

You’ll do many of the day-to-day tasks of doctors, including:

  • taking medical histories
  • examining patients
  • diagnosing and making referrals
  • creating a healthcare management plan
  • taking part in clinics
  • performing medical procedures
  • treating and advising patients with chronic or long term health conditions
  • giving advice on keeping healthy and promoting wellbeing

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital or at a health centre.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

As an experienced physician associate you may be able to move into management, medical teaching or research. Many physician associates work in general practice or emergency care, though it could be possible to specialise in a specific clinical area like paediatric care or mental health.

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