NHS Grampian has appointed its first UK trained physician assistant – an innovative new post designed to help meet changing healthcare needs.
Natasha O’Hagan joins Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) as the University of Aberdeen accepts applications for the next intake of its two-year Physician Assistant postgraduate diploma course.
The University was the first in Scotland to offer this course which had its first intake last year of 15 trainee physician assistants who, after graduating, will be able to work in any healthcare setting under the supervision of a doctor.
Thirty-one-year-old Natasha, who completed her two-year Physician Assistant training in Birmingham, will be based within the breast clinic at ARI.
Originally from Glasgow, Natasha has a BSc in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Glasgow; a Masters degree in Cell Biology from the University of Edinburgh, and worked in related research for almost four years.
But Natasha decided to swap the lab for a healthcare environment because of her passion for working with people.
Natasha said: “After completing my first degree I managed a busy city centre bar - having worked in pubs and clubs throughout my studies, I thoroughly enjoyed working with people. I then moved into research and a career related to my studies.
“When I saw that NHS Scotland was doing a two year pilot evaluating the role of the Physician Assistant, I thought the role sounded really interesting. I’d never considered studying medicine but enjoyed working with people and this seemed a great opportunity.
“I found the training for the Physician Assistant course challenging but really rewarding and now I’m really looking forward to working in the breast clinic at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.”
Professor Steve Heys, Professor of Surgical Oncology at the University and consultant surgeon with NHS Grampian, is director of the course, said: “We look forward to Natasha joining us as she will make a real contribution to the team managing patients with breast diseases.”
Dr Roelf Dijkhuizen, Medical Director of NHS Grampian, added: “It's a pleasure to welcome Natasha to the NHS Grampian team. 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. We are delighted to be working so closely with the University of Aberdeen as this course develops."
Anyone interested in applying for the Physician Assistant course at the University of Aberdeen should have 2.1 or 1st class honours degree in a Medical Science or health related subject, and also have shown a commitment to working in the caring profession. Experience in healthcare may contribute and compensate if these requirements have not been fully met. Potential applicants should contact Admissions AdministratorEmma Dunlop for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.”