Immediate past president of the Faculty of Physician Associates is the first physician associate to be awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians

The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) are celebrating as immediate past president, Kate Straughton, has become the first ever physician associate (PA) to become an honorary fellow of the RCP in recognition of her outstanding work and commitment to the FPA and PA profession.

Honorary fellowship is reserved for individuals who have made an outstanding singular contribution to healthcare and have gone above and beyond in their duty to make a positive difference to the professional healthcare community. Kate’s nomination for honorary fellowship comes following her 3-year term as FPA president that concluded in July 2022.

Kate’s term saw her guide her profession and the FPA’s 4,000+ members through the turbulent COVID-19 pandemic, positively progress PA regulation and continually lead by example, championing PAs at every given opportunity to represent the voice of FPA members. She advocated strongly for the profession and continually highlighted the benefits PAs bring to medicine.

Kate Straughton

Immediate past RCP president Sir Andrew Goddard delivered the citation for Kate at the fellowship ceremony, held in RCP Regent’s Park on Tuesday 6 December, and said: ‘Kate’s leadership style has been a significant asset to the FPA and the RCP, allowing acknowledgment of the tensions created by a rapidly growing and new profession from both within and without. The way she has engaged with students and qualified PAs is one that others will hopefully replicate.’

Sir Andrew continued: ‘PAs form an essential part of that workforce, trained under a medical model to improve both patient care and educational opportunities for trainees. Kate is an exemplar of that profession, an individual who leads by example, is kind, compassionate, and hard-working.’

RCP registrar Professor Cathryn Edwards worked closely to support Kate during her presidential term and commented: ‘This is the first time that a PA has been elected to honorary fellowship of the RCP. It is the most significant honour the RCP can award and was conferred by the RCP Council on Kate because of her outstanding and unrivalled contribution to the national negotiations moving the PA profession towards regulation.

‘Kate's complete understanding of the professional and educational needs of PAs and the complementary needs and skillset of physician colleagues, gave her a unique overview that informed her leadership of the FPA. Such strategic insight was, in equal measure, balanced by her grasp of detailed processes and policies, which would underpin a successful path to regulation and support her facilitative negotiation and leadership style. This made her an outstanding contributor to the national discussions with Health Education England and the General Medical Council.’

Following the completion of her FPA presidential term, Kate returned to her role in PA education. Currently, she is the programme director for PGDip and MSc physician associate studies at the University of Birmingham. Speaking about obtaining an honorary RCP fellowship Kate said: ‘I'm astonished and delighted that the RCP has awarded me with an honorary fellowship. A lot has happened within the FPA and the PA profession over the past few years, and it is lovely that the hard work has been acknowledged by the college. I'm hopeful that I'm the first of many PAs who will have their hard work rewarded with such an honour, and who knows – maybe the FPA could develop its own fellowship in the future.’

Current FPA president Jamie Saunders added: ‘On behalf of the FPA, I want to thank Kate for her dedication to our profession and for positively progressing it to where it is today. Some years ago, we could have only dreamed that our profession would be acknowledged in this way. We’re still on a journey to make our powerful voice heard, and Kate’s success and contribution have been pivotal.’

The FPA wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate Kate on her success as FPA president and honorary fellowship. To understand more about RCP fellowship, visit the webpage.