First Physician Associate course begins
Students on Brunel’s first Physician Associate (PA) Master’s course were welcomed to Brunel at a reception with local health professionals and Brunel staff.
The two-year programme will see students first undertake a year of medical training, interspersed with visits to hospitals and other medical practices, before a second year working full time in real-world health settings, giving them broad experience across a range of pathways. These opportunities are being provided through local links with GPs, a developing partnership with The Hillingdon Hospital Foundation Trust and through Brunel’s membership of the Imperial College Health Partners Group.
Physician Associates are common in the US, and are now rapidly becoming more prevalent in the NHS. Working alongside doctors they perform key medical tasks in the diagnosis and management of patients. Students at the event said they were attracted to the course as it offered a clear route into working in the medical environment, and because it was shorter and more flexible than traditional medicine degrees. Programme Lead Dr David Leonard, who has been a Physician Associate for over 25 years, said that one issue with traditional medical courses was that as someone moved up the ladder they became increasingly specialised, whereas PAs have the flexibility to easily move between different areas of medicine, or move into research or teaching later on.
Rona, one of several Brunel Biomedical Sciences graduates joining the course, said that she chose the course because it offered the opportunity to gain experience in multiple areas of medicine, something she already had decided she wanted after working as a medical translator. She also liked the fact that the course offers a direct route into a profession with many job vacancies.
During the event, students were able to talk to some of the medical partners offering placement opportunities on the course. In addition to offering placements, some will be giving guest lectures on the course, providing students with an even wider knowledge of medicine. Guests included Chad Eventide , a Physician Associate working at Hillingdon Hospital, who will also be acting as a mentor to some students on the course.
Dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences Professor Paul Hellewell said he was delighted to welcome the first intake of students “It’s wonderful that we’ve been able to set up this course so quickly and recruit so many keen students onto it. This is a new pathway for us that will naturally complement other courses within the College, and provide a new route into the world of medicine for many students. I am very grateful to many colleagues for making this happen but specific thanks go to Dr David Leonard, Dr Ketan Patel (Consultant Haematologist at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust who is seconded to Brunel as the Medical Director of the programme) and Esther Bray (Project Manager in CHLS) who oversaw the whole project.”