The Faculty of Physician Associates launches a draft physician associate curriculum 

Update – September 2023: 
The updated and final new physician associate curriculum is now available to download below. 

The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) is the professional membership body committed to campaigning, educating, and supporting the physician associate (PA) profession. The FPA is now pleased to be launching a draft PA curriculum, which will support higher education institutions (HEIs) in the creation of PA programmes.

The first formal PA programme was established in the UK in 2008. Since then, more than 30 HEIs have created PA programmes across the UK. The purpose of the draft curriculum is to provide HEIs across all four devolved UK nations with a standardised framework to ensure high-quality education for PA students. The draft curriculum is owned by the FPA and has been aligned to the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) Generic and shared outcomes for PAs and anaesthesia associates . While each HEI designs its own individual PA programme, they all employ the same end goal of establishing and preparing PAs of the future. Every such programme instils the skills, knowledge and confidence to empower PAs to become valuable, capable and compassionate members of the clinical workforce. The draft curriculum is formed of two key sections: the programme of learning, which sets out what a PA student should learn during their course, and the educational approach that contains requirements and guidance for HEI course providers.

The draft curriculum has been in development for over 2 years in a collaboration between the FPA and the GMC. Speaking about reaching this milestone launch, FPA president Jamie Saunders says: ‘The PA profession continues to grow at a rapid rate, and PAs currently benefit over 50 specialties. Educating future PAs is vital to maintaining this success. From the moment we qualify as a PA, we’re expected to put all our learning from into practice and provide effective, safe care to our patients.

‘By publishing the draft curriculum, we’re taking another vital step in our journey to ensuring that the future of our profession is equipped with the key knowledge, skills and behaviours to become valuable members of the workforce. I highly encourage all PA students to become familiar with the draft curriculum and to discuss any questions they may have with their HEI PA course leader. Together, we can ensure that the PA profession continues to be an essential part of the medical workforce’.

The draft PA curriculum is expected to be adopted by HEIs for students commencing PA school from September 2023, and should not affect students currently enrolled on PA programmes. The draft curriculum is now available to download below and via the GMC website. The FPA remains committed to ensuring continued improvements are made and will review the curriculum each year to complete any required updates. Feedback is also welcome from PA students and we encourage them to work closely with their HEI PA course leads to share their feedback.

Statutory regulation of the PA profession is currently in progress and will be managed by the GMC. As regulation approaches, the FPA are also committed to ensuring that all PA FPA members are prepared to become regulated professionals. To that end, all FPA PA members are obligated to adhere to updated guidance, which the FPA website hosts on the professional development section. Select ‘member obligations’ from the dropdown menu to review the full suite of documents, including the PA code of conduct, Professional Standards Committee (PSC) – terms of reference, conduct procedure, social media principles and the FPA privacy notice.

Please direct any questions relating to the draft curriculum or the FPA PA member obligations to [email protected] .

For more information about how to become a PA in the UK, or to review the list of HEIs currently offering PA programmes, visit the FPA becoming a PA webpage .

Please note: The draft PA curriculum has been developed in close collaboration between the FPA, the GMC, the RCP, the PA Schools Council and others. It was subject to a GMC-led consultation in autumn 2021 and recommended by an independent panel of GMC associates in summer 2022. This is the version we intend to submit to the GMC’s curricula approval processes when they become the regulator of PAs. Until then, they cannot legally approve the curriculum and as such, there remains the possibility of further changes before that point.