We are pleased to be able to publish the FPA census 2017, towards the end of what has been an eventful and exciting year for the physician associate (PA) profession. We have seen amazing growth in PA student numbers, an increase in the number of PA programmes that are available in the UK and continued awareness of the role across other healthcare professions and the public.
In September 2017 we launched An employer’s guide to physician associates, an evolving document that provides information for current and potential employers and supervisors of PAs.
In October 2017 the secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt announced the opening of a Department of Health consultation on the regulation of medical associate professions in the UK, recommending that statutory regulation be introduced for PAs. This is a monumental positive step forward for PAs, and the result of a decade’s worth of campaigning as a profession. I am incredibly proud to be part of this progress as a PA, as one of the first PAs who graduated from the pilot scheme back in 2007 and as the president of the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA). We look forward to working with the government and the Department of Health to make regulation of the profession a reality as soon as we can, and the FPA awaits the results of the consultation with anticipation.
As usual, we hope that the process of collecting census data about the growth of the PA profession and the exciting progress it is making will help to inform decision making about the future of the NHS workforce and the future of PAs. The FPA census documents the geographic and specialty spread of the profession and the scope of the practice of PAs. This information is of great interest to potential employers and policy makers, as it demonstrates which specialties PAs are working in, and their numbers. The data can also be used to advocate for statutory regulation of the profession.
Furthermore, the census can help potential employers to set proper remuneration for PAs who they may wish to hire, as well as to record how many people have trained and qualified as a PA but are not currently working as a PA. This may indicate a need to modify training or job placement activities. The FPA census can also be used to document the advancement of the profession in the UK, for use in academic work or papers.
Thank you to all the PAs and PA students who took time to complete the census – we are grateful for your continued work to advocate for the profession and to deliver high-quality care to patients.