Physician Associate Studies - MSc
- Mode of study
- Full time
- Start date
- January each year
- Duration of Study
- 2 years
- Subject Area
- FEES (2021/22 academic year)
- UK - £10,200
The position of a Physician Associate is a pioneering and rapidly growing clinical career. This course will enable you to develop the skills and knowledge to be part of a clinical workforce delivering excellent patient care. A tailored combination of clinical placements and innovative teaching, delivered by PAs, scientists and clinicians, provides the ideal educational environment for learning and skills development.
Applications for January 2022 are now closed
About the course
Physician Associates (PAs) are healthcare professionals, trained in a generalist medical model to deliver care and treatment within hospital and community environments. A PA works independently, under the supervision of a senior doctor, to diagnose, manage and treat a range of patients as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Once qualified, PAs may also develop a specialist area of practice.
Keele’s PA course utilises a diverse range of teaching faculty including PAs, clinicians, scientists and researchers to maximise students’ learning potential. Furthermore, Keele’s placement providers are committed to developing PAs for recruitment into their organisations. Postgraduate medicine is closely affiliated to the North Staffordshire PA Internship Programme and is actively involved with the development of PA education nationally.
Watch the Royal College of Physicians video to find out about the role of the Physician Associate; where they work, what they do, and why they are of benefit to the team. Hear why their role is valuable for consultants as well as trainees, how they can increase access to care for patients, and why the job is 'really rewarding' from the Physician Associate student perspective.
Keele University School of Medicine is spread across several sites in Staffordshire and Shropshire. The three principal buildings are located at the University main campus and at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) three miles away. There are also facilities at our associate teaching hospital at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust in Shropshire, at North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust, at County Hospital, and at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust at both Stafford and Shrewsbury.
- The David Weatherall building at Keele campus contains everything that one would expect in a modern purpose-built facility, including a large lecture theatre, seminar rooms, IT laboratory, a first class anatomy suite, multi-user laboratories, student common room and refreshment area. The University provides library and information services in the nearby Information Services building.
- At the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) campus, there are two educational buildings: the Keele University School of Medicine (UHNM Hospital Campus) building and the Clinical Education Centre. As well as the usual teaching rooms, the Clinical Education Centre provides a multi-professional Health Library and superb clinical skills laboratory facilities.
- The Harplands Hospital (North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust) has a dedicated student common room/IT facility, seminar rooms and a small skills laboratory.
- At the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, facilities include seminar rooms, a clinical skills laboratory, a student common room/resource room, and an integrated Health Library. High standard living accommodation for students is available at the Shrewsbury site.
- At Stafford, County Hospital has several teaching rooms and library facilities. The Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has dedicated space for Keele medical students at St George's Hospital site in Stafford.
How the course is taught
The course is a full-time, two-year programme of experiential learning, where students engage with a range of teaching methodologies linked to clinical cases and associated skills. Both years follow a programme of clinical teaching with integrated placements in primary and secondary care with hospitals and GP practices. Students are taught by a range of specialist academics and clinicians to gain comprehensive input and guidance about the topic areas required to fulfil the programme requirements. They also have joint teaching with the UG medical programme to develop interpersonal awareness and knowledge.
Our aim is to prepare students for the national exam and their future careers with a structured programme of speciality teaching. Students will gain a broad understanding of clinical environments including: General Medical; Emergency Medicine; General Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Mental Health.
Students complete their MSc over two years before sitting their National Exam.
Throughout each year there are a range of formative examinations and tests to help the students to develop their awareness of the standard required to pass the course. This is supported with regular group and individual feedback to aid individual progress. At the end of each year there are summative assessments which consist of an SBA examination and OSCE examination. All of these are set at national standards to ensure the student knows the standard that has to be achieved.
Alongside this, the students have a clinical journal where they log all their clinical hours in each of the placements and also a skills handbook which is signed off by clinical tutors, to ensure they have ample practice at set skills and procedures to ensure proficiency. There are also two reflective assignments based on cases from the clinical area which emphasizes the role of the PA in the clinical area and a communications assessment, which is conducted by the GP tutor in the surgery in which they are placed.
There is also peer teaching and assessment to help the students to embed their knowledge further by teaching their colleagues. This works well in developing a support community within the student groups. It also encourages learning and reduces the risk of isolation in students, which impacts on their development and achievement. This is achievable as at Keele we keep class sizes small enough for this important concept of student experience and development to be effective.
The list of modules below are offered in the 2019/20 academic year. We expect to offer the same modules in the future but this may change due to staff availability. If the modules change we will inform you during the admissions process.
|Year 1||Year 2|
Areas taught in this first year include cardiology, respiratory, gastroenterology, endocrinology, GU and renal, neurology, eyes and ENT and MSK.
These theoretical blocks of study commence with the anatomy and physiology relevant to the clinical area, the clinical examination and assessment skills and procedural skills as well as the conditions that they will encounter, their diagnosis, investigation and management.
Entwined in all of this, the concepts of professionalism, communication, and ethical concepts of clinical practice are taught, alongside academic writing and development skills. We have an excellent student support service provided by the university which students can gain support from.
This year continues to develop professional, ethical and interprofessional working skills and knowledge. Students focus on the specialist areas during this year with theory blocks on mental health, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, emergency medicine and haematology, as well as infectious diseases and dermatology.
The clinical placement in Year 2 includes a 12-week rotation between mental health, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology and emergency medicine. They also have a 6-week GP block and a further 4-week additional placement, where at least one week is spent in emergency medicine again and the other three weeks in areas of their choice. Many opt to spend this final 3-week placement in the area in which they have chosen to work once qualified. This is facilitated wherever possible.
Master's dissertation module across both years
This is a 15,000-word literature-based dissertation which focuses on a topic area of the student's choice. They then undertake a thorough literature review of this area, analyse and debate how the role of the PA would fit into a clinical area to aid service development, help to improve patient outcomes and suggest recommendations for future practice.
The dissertation commences two months into the course and runs over the two years, with the final submission three months before the end of the course so as not to interfere with revision for the final examination of the course. Students are given supervisors who guide them through the dissertation process, read draft work and provide ideas for the student to develop. The dissertation is staged to allow sufficient time for the completion in a timely manner.
Students are placed in the local primary and secondary care trust in the North Staffordshire and Cheshire areas. These are teaching hospitals and practices and have close links with the School of Medicine.
Academic entry requirements
- 2:1 honours degree in a biomedical or health science related subject (e.g. biomedical science, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, healthcare science, pharmacy, audiology, nursing, midwifery, and physiotherapy).
- All applicants should hold GCSE Maths and English grade 6 (or B). Applicants with equivalent or non-standard qualifications will be considered on an individual basis.
- Where English is not offered as a first language, applicants are required to achieve a minimum IELTS score no less than 7.5 (no less than 7 in any sub-set).
- Please note: all applicants will be required to submit a Roles & Responsibilities (R&R) form. The R&R form is an opportunity for candidates to evidence their communication and people skills. Download the PA Roles & Responsibilities Form to complete and upload as part of the application process.
- Shortlisted applicants will be called to interview, held in the David Weatherall (School of Medicine) building on the University campus. Each candidate will undertake a structured individual interview from a panel of three members of the team from the PA course.
- Before starting the Physician Associate Studies programme all successful applicants will need to pass health and criminal record screening.
- Unfortunately this course is not open to overseas students.
Some travel costs may be incurred if an external project or placement is undertaken; any such costs will be discussed with the student before the project is confirmed. It may be possible for the student to select an internal project and that would not incur any additional travel costs. There may be additional costs for textbooks and inter-library loans.
Keele University is located on a beautiful campus and has all the facilities of a small town. Student accommodation, shops, restaurants and cafes are all within walking distance of the teaching buildings. This is a very cost-effective way to live and to reduce your living costs.
Scholarships and Funding
We are committed to rewarding excellence and potential. Please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries webpage for more information.
This course is led by Dr Alison Pooler, an advanced nurse practitioner by background and an experienced academic having joined Keele University in 2008. Her PhD and research focuses around respiratory medicine and non-medical prescribing. She has overall leadership and management of the programme and ensures excellent teaching and support for the students is maintained.
She is supported by Dr Alwyn Ralphs, the Director of Postgraduate Programmes for the School of Medicine, to ensure adequate resources are provide for the PA course.
The School of Medicine
Lecture sessions are led by a variety of experienced authorities in their field. Therefore, the student receives a wide knowledge base from academics and practising experts. Their theory is embedded when they are taught within the clinical areas by a range of clinical tutors, who are also supported by the academic team for the programme to develop networks and channels of effective communication to enhance student development and experience.
The PA students are also taught alongside the undergraduate medical students to provide interprofessional learning and development.
The Keele University School of Medicine is ranked third in the UK (The Guardian, 2020), and the PA course is firmly embedded within this school alongside the undergraduate medical students using the same resources, teaching facilities, and staff expertise.
- Dr Alwyn Ralphs: A practicing GP but also the Director of Postgraduate Programmes. He is an experienced academic and leader who supports the PA programme at executive level within the School of Medicine, as well as teaching on the course.
- Dr Catherine Allen: A GP by background, and also a qualified primary school teacher. She brings a wide array of both clinical and knowledge-based skills to the team to aid student development and learning success.
- Dr Rachael Grant: A practising GP by background, she brings clinical knowledge and expertise to aid the student learning and development
- Rosanna Carter: A PA by background who works part-time at the Birmingham Children's Hospital. She brings the PA role to life by exchanging her knowledge and skills of this role to the students.
- Joy Bagguley: An experienced clinical skills tutor within the School of Medicine, whose expertise is invaluable to the students in developing excellent clinical skills within the School's simulation laboratories.
- Dr Audrey Skidmore and Dr Margaux Horn: Both expert academics themselves, they are members of the clinical science team within the School of Medicine, who coordinate the teaching programme on the clinical science topics to support the theoretical blocks of teaching.
- Philippa Bailey: An experienced and highly organised administrator who keeps the underlying organisation and process of the programme going. She supports the course director. Philippa can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A career as a PA can be very diverse and opportunities are opening up in our local Trusts to facilitate this. We work very closely with our healthcare providers to review and develop PA roles and career progression locally.