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Course success rewarded with funding for extra places

Dr Wyn Harris leading a discussion at a Medical School event.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Swansea University Medical School is so successful at training physician associates it has already been awarded funding to offer extra places.

Its first cohort of Physician Associate Studies Master’s students only graduated last summer but now the number of places available on the two-year course is set to rise by 10 to 30 this September.

Course director Dr Wyn Harris (pictured welcoming visitors to the Medical School’s recent PA careers event) said: “This is testament to the success of the course and the positive impact that physician associates are having in the NHS workforce in Wales.”

A physician associate is a rapidly growing healthcare role which sees them working alongside doctors in hospitals and surgeries, supporting the diagnosis and management of patients.

The additional training places are being funded by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), the body which oversees Welsh healthcare education and training.

HEIW Medical Director Professor Push Mangat emphasised the increasingly important role PAs play: “They complement existing medical models and provide much-needed continuity of care to patients.  We are very pleased HEIW has been able to fund the additional training places for PAs and look forward to welcoming the trainees to NHS Wales.”

This year’s PA graduates not only achieved a 100 per cent pass rate in the National Test for Physician Associates but also said they were 100 per cent satisfied with the Swansea programme.

First year student Brad Sewell said: “I chose to study at Swansea because I enjoy interacting with patients and want to be able to help give them the best possible care.

“We learn alongside medical students, doctors, nurses across the breadth of clinical practice. Because we will work together, we train together - whether in a lecture theatre, on placement or further afield.”

Tom Addison, is now working at Hywel Dda University Health Board after completing the course.

He said: “Using PAs in practice is an example of how more care can be provided across many services, easing pressures on staffing levels and providing a reliable and consistent workforce which can contribute to the investigation, diagnosis and management of patients.”

Head of the Medical School Professor Keith Lloyd said: “We are committed to developing and supporting the health and life science workforce of the future - of which our physician associates are a very important part. These additional places will ensure our Physician Associate Studies course continues to thrive and deliver the NHS workforce of the future.”

Ian Evans, PA co-ordinator for ABMU Health Board, said it was very satisfying to see the hard work being done at Swansea rewarded.

“It’s clear the Medical School and its partners are leading the way in Wales when it comes to deliver fit-to-practice physician associates and will continue to do so in years to come,” he said.

Jodie Smith, a first year student, added: “Swansea University Medical School has gained an enviable reputation as a small and friendly community that cares and has the top three ranking to match. Why wouldn’t someone want to train in a place like that?”

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