FPA virtual conference – poster competition and FPA awards

The FPA virtual conference took place between 25-26 November 2021. The event saw over 800 delegates register and over 400 watched the live close of the conference session. That was hosted by FPA president, Kate Straughton and vice president Michelle Chapman and featured the results of the poster competition and FPA awards.

Poster competition

The FPA extends thanks and congratulates all physician associates (PAs) for their fantastic abstract and poster submissions. All entries showcased the great contribution PAs are making in research.

The winner of the poster competition was Chelsey Clarke, PA at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Chelsey Clarke

What was the topic/theme of your poster?

My poster was entitled ‘Medical Handover – The importance of a designated space and structure for efficacy, satisfaction, education and safety’. Although our initial aim for this project was to do with improvement, this poster highlighted the negative impact that losing our dedicated space, and therefore structure, had on the work we had achieved following a yearlong project. It also demonstrated how difficult it is to implement sustainable change and the importance of continuity of projects beyond staff rotations.

How do you feel about winning and what are your future plans?

I was so excited to win and to share the news with the colleagues that I worked on this project with. It was great to see our work recognised and celebrated, however, it is bittersweet that we won with a project that demonstrated negative change - hopefully I will be back with a more positive project next year!

Over the last year, especially, I have become heavily involved in quality improvement and junior leadership which has led to a PA clinical fellow secondment with HEE. I am now working part time on projects to help ensure there are equal education/CPD provisions for PAs across the North West, with the rest of my week spent clinically working in Acute Medicine.

This was the first FPA conference that I have been able to attend and I was really impressed with the quality and variety of speakers - I will definitely be back again next year (hopefully in person next time!).

With so many impressive submissions this year, a number of posters were also awarded highly commended:

Chandran Louis, Brogan Guest and Beck Hickman, (pictured L-R) PAs and PA lecturers at St Georges University London/St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

St George's team

What was the title of your poster submission?

‘Recruiting and Maintaining Physician Associates in General Practice to Decrease Workforce Burden on the NHS’.

What was the topic/theme of your submission?

Our poster details the survey results of PAs in GP in London. We believe that PAs can fill a critical need for more general practice providers in the U.K. and hope our poster brings attention to how PAs can be recruited, mentored, supported, and utilised in GP.

As a team how do you feel about being highly commended and what are your future plans?

We are thrilled that we were recognised for our poster by the FPA, and in the future, we will continue our research and hope to write a research paper focusing on the utilisation of PAs in the workforce. 

Ben Wilkinson, PA student at The University of Bournemouth

Ben Wilkinson

What was the title of your poster submission?

‘Accessibility of Physician Associate Studies: Student Experiences of Financial Support’.

What was the topic/theme of your submission?

This poster summarised my MSc dissertation project, in which I explored the experiences of funding available to current PA students. PA MSc funding varies across the UK, has generally decreased over time, and there is no government funding for PGDiPs. Socioeconomic representation has been shown to be low in areas of healthcare such as medicine and nursing, and this has been shown to influence patient care.

This has not been studied specifically in PA students. Despite sincere efforts to maximise diversity and representativeness in healthcare, by various bodies over the last decade, there are ongoing concerns of elitism - and it is important for patients that the PA profession should not become a 'closed-shop'. Amidst the context of an ongoing pandemic, with many associated unforeseen costs (including increasing National Exam fees, I thought it important to investigate what students thought of the financial support available to them.

How do you feel about being highly commended and what are your future plans?

Having spent a lot of time around students who are struggling in various ways, I am pleased to have highlighted the issue at a more visible level and to hopefully have probed questions into whether more might be done to support students. Postgraduates’ studies necessitate a significant amount of debt, and this affects study, work-life balance, as well as putting talented potential applicants off applying.

I plan to publish this study after taking my nationals in January, and hope that the findings might go on to inform policy. There has also been interest in using the format of this simple, free online survey as a census for students to monitor diversity - as such a thing only exists for qualified PAs in work. The Physician Associate programme in its infancy posited to be an alternative and inclusive way to access medical careers, and I think it's extremely important those values are maintained for the sake of both the profession and of patients. I'd like to thank the FPA for their commendation, and those who encourage me to submit my poster for consideration.

 Alicia Cowan, Richard O’Brien and Nathan Oliver, PAs at NHS Lothian (to be added)

FPA awards

The FPA awards are designed to showcase and celebrate PAs and their colleagues who are excelling in the profession. Several impressive nominations were received, and it is fantastic to see the level of pride and support that PAs and their wider colleagues show for each other.

Your award winners were:

Rebekah Meen / Dr Jameel Karim

PA of the year – Rebekah Meen (pictured left), PA in orthopaedics, Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Scotland.

Rebekah was nominated by her colleagues who described her as motivated, driven and incredibly passionate about her profession. She played a major role in the restart of elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic and strives to improve education for PAs.

PA supervisor of the year – Dr Jameel Karim (pictured right), consultant in emergency medicine, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals.

Dr Karim was described by his nominators as an outstanding role model who emphasises the individuality of each and every PA has and provides wisdom to both newly qualified and experienced PAs.

Congratulations to all winners and highly commended entries at this years’ FPA poster competition and awards. Further opportunities for PAs and wider colleagues to get involved will be available in the future. The FPA strongly encourages members to get involved and showcase the fantastic work being achieved. Information will be shared in future member newsletters.