The best universities to train as a physician associate

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Although this is a relatively new speciality, a Physician Associate has quickly become an indispensable figure in UK’s healthcare structure. Working under the supervision of doctors, these professionals are present in every aspect of healthcare.

If you are interested in a career in this fast-growing specialty, the first thing you need to know is to find out which universities in the UK offer PA training, what type of degrees they offer and what are their eligibility criteria.

General eligibility criteria

The specific criteria may differ from one programme to another but in general all universities seek to admit academically strong, well-motivated students who are good team workers.

Typical academic requirements include:

– An upper second class Honours degree (2:1) or better in a relevant life sciences subject (Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacy, etc.) from a UK university.

– At least five GCSEs at grade C or above, including mathematics, English language or literature and a science subject.

Non-academic requirements include significant work experience in a clinical setting with direct customer contact. This could either be in a hospital or a general practice setting or voluntary activity in a recognised organisation such as St John Ambulance.

Here are the top ten universities that offer Physician Assistant training.

University of Reading

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip (Physician Associate Studies Diploma) programme at its campus in Reading.

Course start date: September

Tuition fees: £9,000

The first year focuses on academic and skills-based components. The second year reinforces learnt skills in a wide range of health care settings.

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University of Birmingham

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Birmingham.

There are two course start dates: January & May

Tuition fees: £9,000

On this course, theory is learned mostly through problem-based learning. Students have contact with patients in hospital and community attachments right from the first semester.

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University of Liverpool

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Liverpool.

Course start date: February

Tuition fees: the programme is supported and fully funded by Health Education North West so students pay no tuition fees.

Students start with an intensive block of academic teaching which then progresses on to a mixture of taught sessions integrated with clinical placements.

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Plymouth University

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Plymouth.

Course start date: January

Tuition fees: £9,000. The university offers a range of financial support to students.

Students can expect early patient contact from the first weeks, continuing and increasing throughout the programme.

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Sheffield Hallam University

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Sheffield.

Course start date: January

Tuition fees £9,000: Students are eligible for a £5000 bursary for the first year of the course.

Students complete 600 hours of clinical placements during the two-year course. This may be done in medicine and surgery in general hospital settings, as well as in primary care in GP practices.

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University of Aberdeen

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Aberdeen.

Course start date: September

Tuition fees: £9,000. All alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen get a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees.

Students complete 90 weeks of tuition that combines the theoretical and scientific basis of medicine with clinical experience.

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University of Central Lancashire

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Lancashire.

Course start date – February

Tuition fees: NHS funding covers the full tuition. Students receive a salary during training. Students are taught by senior clinicians and share some of their classes with medical students.

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University of Surrey

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Surrey.

Course start date: September

Tuition fees: £9,000. Surrey alumni are eligible for a 10% discount on the tuition fees. The curriculum builds upon a first degree in health sciences, biosciences or life sciences to Postgraduate Diploma level.

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University of Manchester

Offers a 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Manchester.

Course start date: September

Tuition fees: NHS funding covers the cost of tuition. Students receive a salary during the course. During Year 2 students get the opportunity to develop their skills through working abroad.

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University of Chester

Offers 2-year full-time postgraduate PgDip programme at its campus in Chester.

Course start date: September

Tuition fees: £9,000

The course is designed to be modular with taught modules spread over 2 years.

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St George’s University London

Offers 2-year full-time postgraduate Msc programme at its campus in London.

Course start date: September

Tuition fees: £9,000

St George’s is the longest running PA course and shares its site with the largest NHS teaching hospital.

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Is the role for you?

If you understand what being a physician associate involves but still aren’t sure if it’s right for you, the best thing to do is gain some physician associate work experience. We offer PA placements in all of our destinations where you can gain a really valuable level of insight into what your future career could be like.

Chat with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email info@gapmedics.com

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.

Eye-opening hospital work experience International hospital shadowing for school and university students Find out more

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