As my first quarter as president of the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) comes to a close, I am not only looking forward to 2017, but also reflecting on the successes of this year for the FPA. It has been a busy few months, with growing demand from current and potential employers, supervisors and educators of PAs as well as student and qualified PAs, for support, information and engagement. The FPA board members have been working hard to answer the queries and meet the growing demand for knowledge and advice.
In the words of health secretary Jeremy Hunt during his keynote speech at the NHS Providers conference in November, ‘there is a real appetite for physician associate roles in the NHS and with this comes the issue of regulation’. We are getting closer to our goal of achieving statutory regulation for physician associates, and are pleased that our efforts to raise the profile of PAs and get the issue on the agenda are having an impact.
I have attended several meetings of the Medical Associate Professions Oversight Board and its sub-committees on building the case for regulation of the profession. There is still a way to go, but we are looking forward to meeting the health secretary in the new year, as well as continuing our ongoing work on this issue. We are ensuring that the PA voice is heard at all levels.
For the faculty, 2016 has been a year full of successes. It has seen the first FPA conference held here at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which was so brilliantly attended and a great opportunity for conversation and learning. We have had PAs telling their stories and experiences through the Future Hospital Tell us your story initiative. We’ve attended lots of events too, from the Netherlands PA conference to representation at the Canadian Association of PAs annual conference. I also had the opportunity to speak at the RCP Wales conference to raise the profile of PAs and the FPA, and I am hoping that next year this session will be delivered by a PA who is working in Wales.
Looking ahead to next year, I’m excited to be taking part in a debate, along with PAs working in paediatrics, on the place of PAs in the paediatric workforce at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. We’re also hosting a mentoring workshop for supervisors of PAs at the RCP, and I’ll be speaking at the Medicine 2017 RCP conference. The RCP’s annual conference is going to be a brilliant opportunity to reach not only PAs attending, but also physicians currently working with PAs, or hoping to in the future. This awareness raising and positivity are so important for spreading the word about how much PAs have to offer to the multidisciplinary team. We also have our second FPA annual conference to look forward to in September 2017.
Patients, carers and PAs
The FPA is keen to work more closely with patients and carers, and Karen Roberts spoke at the RCP-hosted Big Conversation about the Patient and Carer Network. This was really well received and they are planning to repeat this event again next year. Thank you to Karen for giving your time to do this and thank you to the Patient and Carer Network for inviting us.
We are really keen to get as many people involved in the faculty as possible and my aim is to enable and empower all those in the profession to take part in raising the profile of PAs, and educating others. As numbers of PAs and PA students grow, we also have more and more of you flying the PA flag, for which we are very grateful. I am hoping over the term of my presidency to continue travelling around the country meeting PAs, supervisors, employers, educators and patients. Watch this space!
Finally, thank you to all of you for your continued support this year, and for being pioneers of the profession. We couldn’t do our work without you. For those of you providing care for your patients over the festive season, I hope you know that the impact you make is much appreciated.
With every seasonal wish for a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful, happy and prosperous new year.