The Faculty of Physician Associates releases titles and introduction guidance to support the physician associate profession

The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) is the professional membership body for physician associates (PAs) in the UK. The FPA represents the PA profession across the UK by providing support to PAs and guiding their development. It is hosted within the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

Over the past 12 months the FPA board has been working on supportive guidance to better help with the understanding of the physician associate role. Our supportive guidance series will help patients and the wider public understand our role and scope of practice better. It will also provide healthcare colleagues, supervisors, employers and interested organisations with clear guidance for the safe and effective implementation and utilisation of physician associates.

The first in a series of guidance documents, ‘Physician associate title and introduction guidance for PAs, supervisors, employers and organisations’, is published today (5 October 2023). This document gives PAs, supervisors, employers and organisations a structured and standardised way of using the physician associate title. It highlights the importance of explaining the physician associate title, associated abbreviations and that physician associates are not doctors. It also gives practical examples of how physician associates should introduce and describe their role.

Speaking about the release of the guidance Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England said; ‘The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan outlines how we can put the NHS on a sustainable footing by training, retaining and reforming the workforce to deliver multi-disciplinary teams serving patients across the NHS. One part of this is expanding enhanced, advanced and associate roles already working across the NHS, including physician associates which are internationally recognised effective roles within a multi-disciplinary team. 

The RCP and Faculty of PAs work to help increase understanding of the physician associate roles, to support colleagues coming into these roles, and to develop appropriate curricula, capability and career frameworks, is an essential part of ensuring that these roles work effectively for patients and with doctors and other professionals within the wider NHS workforce.’

We want to highlight that this is a best practice guidance document, aimed at supporting physician associates to explain their role to ensure that patients understand who is assessing and treating them.

Over the coming weeks we will provide further clarity on the professionalism expected of physician associates across the UK to support the safe delivery of patient care. This will include documents on supervision, scope of practice and career development.

Published October 2023