Beth Norman – MSc Physician Associate Studies graduate
  • ' Current employer: NHS, Yeovil District Hospital
  • ] Current role: Physician associate
  • & Year of graduation: 2017

What made you choose the University of Plymouth?

"I was attracted to Plymouth because of the sponsorship opportunities on the course. Not only would my fees be paid for by a hospital, but I would also be guaranteed a job once I had finished studying. 

The course is sponsored by the hospital trust, with a two-year job contract after you qualify. This means you can concentrate on studying in your final year instead of job hunting and interviews. 

The second year is spent on placement at the trust which makes the transition from student to employee incredibly easy. There is a large emphasis on self-directed learning. The ability to direct and structure your own studies is key in a medical career as you will never stop learning. 

The course is in close contact with the medical school, meaning that we had full access to the clinical skills teaching available to the medical students. We were also lucky enough to have placement days in many of the departments at Derriford hospital which is the major trauma centre for the area."

How have you found the physician associate role?

"The NHS is under tremendous strain from both internal and external pressures and is being forced to adapt. Introducing a new role that doesn't fit into the traditional hierarchy of medicine will take time to adjust. I feel that I make a difference in my role. 

While doctors spend a lot of their time doing on-call shifts and nights, I am based on the ward Monday–Friday, 9–5pm. 

This means I provide a greater continuity of care for patients and it is useful for both junior doctors and the consultants, as I'm able to have a general overview of patients. 

The nursing team has also found this to be useful as there are normally different members of the medical team around but I am always there. I have found I have been able to fit seamlessly into working as part of the medical team.

As the second cohort of physician associates at my hospital, this has given us the opportunity to shape our roles in the trust, thus paving the way for the cohorts who will come after. 

The number of physician associate courses in the UK is increasing exponentially so there will be the option to work in education which greatly interests me. I enjoy working in the emergency department and I would be interested in pursuing a career in expedition medicine in the future. 

As far as I'm aware there are not any physician associates in the country currently doing this, so I would be one of the first."

The role of a physician associate is a relatively new profession in the NHS. It has been exciting to start working and developing my role at Yeovil District Hospital. 

I enjoy being on the ward and working as part of the medical team to provide the best level of care possible for my patients. 

In my experience, there are often questions about working with a physician associate and I'm more than happy to explain my role to my colleagues. 

Many patients have not heard of a physician associate either and I'm usually the first they have met. 

It is incredibly important for patient safety that the limitations of my role are understood."

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying dental surgery, please visit our MSc Physician Associate Studies. For more information about our range of courses within the University of Plymouth's Peninsula School of Medicine please visit the school page.

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