New Physician Assistant course launched

New Physician Assistant course launched

The University of Aberdeen is the first in Scotland to launch a new Physician Assistant training course that will help address healthcare provision as the needs and demands of the population change.

The Physician Assistant postgraduate diploma is a new two year programme which will deliver graduates who will work in a healthcare team working under the supervision of a doctor at all times.

The post - which has its roots in America where there are around 100,000 practising physician assistants working under the supervision of consultants and general practitioners - is being developed in conjunction with NHS Grampian .

On completion of their training, graduates - who will already have a science undergraduate degree - will be able to work in a team in a range of areas and specialities in hospital or in a GP practice.

The US created the role in the mid 1960s where it was initially developed to address a shortage of primary care doctors in rural and urban areas. A survey put the post at number two in a list of the top 100 jobs in America.

Professor Steve Heys, Professor of Surgical Oncology at the University and consultant surgeon with NHS Grampian, is director of the new course. He said: “Currently there are around 100 physician assistants working in the UK with a handful of these working in Scotland.

“Our new course will deliver 15 physician assistants each year who will be important in tackling the changing needs of healthcare provision.

“More and more people are requiring care for a variety of illnesses, many of which are now treatable but which require care for many years or for the whole of the patients’ lives.

“The new physician assistants will make a major contribution to healthcare provision and will also enhance the quality of care provided.

“Applicants will do two years of intensive training, learning alongside medical students and other health care professionals.

“They will train in wards and with GPs learning about health and illness in all areas. At the end of their training they will have to pass a national examination to practice as a physician assistant and they will also have an examination every six years to ensure that they are up to date.

“The physicians assistants will work under the supervision of doctors alongside those in the multi-professional teams that are required to ensure  we provide the best healthcare for our patients.

“This is an exciting opportunity for people who are highly motivated and who want to work in healthcare as part of a team where they can play a role in the provision of healthcare throughout the UK.”

Dr Roelf Dijkhuizen, Medical Director of NHS Grampian said: “This is another innovative initiative that shows the value of collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian. 

“Physician Assistants have been a great success both in Europe and the United States.  Patients in Grampian will be able to benefit from the support these clinicians can offer.”

As well as having a science degree, applicants should have demonstrated a commitment to working in the caring profession. Applicants requiring more information about the course, which is subject to approval, should email Admissions Administrator Emma Dunlop


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