In this series, we’re asking new healthcare professionals about their roles and responsibilities.

What do Physician Associates do? How do they work with other Healthcare Professionals? We asked Angela from the Arc Primary Care Network (PCN) about her work.

How long have you been working in healthcare?

I graduated from my Physician Associate post-graduate diploma in October in 2018. Before that, I spent two years at a GP surgery getting experience in phlebotomy, read-coding (a short-hand way of recording treatments and referrals) and reception work.

Why did you choose this role in the practice?

I am a qualified Physician Associate and the opening came up at the practice that I work at currently. I had researched online and had seen that the practice had a progressive vision and had employed many associate practitioners like myself to serve the local population.

What is a typical day like in your role? What specific things do you help patients with?

There is no such thing as a typical day! Usually I see a mixture of minor illness, and some more serious symptoms of either acute or chronic conditions. Mostly I see new presentations of illnesses. But occasionally I am lucky enough to follow up on patients that I have seen previously. I believe that in any presentation there is an element of concern or underlying worry. I try my best with each encounter to explore this with my patients to try and best address their concerns.

Do you have other responsibilities in the practice? If so, what are they?

My responsibilities are to accurately record my history and examination findings, order tests in response to findings. I then discuss this with a supervising clinician either whilst the patient is present or once the clinic has finished. I am also responsible for managing any clinical letters or enquiries from patients that I receive. In addition to face to face consultations we also have a limited number of phone calls each day.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The patients. I feel an enormous privilege sharing patient’s journeys with them and I have such respect for the dignity with which patients bear sometimes very upsetting news. Often, I learn new things from patients who tell me not only about their conditions but also their lives, fear, hopes and aspirations. I am constantly humbled by people’s ability to get up and just keep going.

What do you wish people knew about you/your role?

I wish that patients realised that occasionally we must ask for advice or consult resources to ensure they are receiving the best treatment. Although my training is shorter than that of a GP I am trained to recognise and treat common complaints. This is in order to reduce the strain on general practice and improve access to healthcare professionals for patients. I always work alongside a supervising GP who reviews every case with me. This ensures care plans are appropriate and to allow for mutual learning and development.

Being on the front line can sometimes feel stressful; sometimes you spend whole days seeing patients with very little time to care for yourself. Naturally, some of what is experienced comes home with me at the end of the day. I hope that patients know that our concern over their health does not end when they leave the surgery.

Above all things though, I hope that patients and colleagues know that I am most grateful for the trust they have invested in me in my role; for this I am truly grateful every day.

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