Physician Associate Studies MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
Duration
24 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:2 (hons) in health- related science
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 7.5 overall, with no less than 7.5 in spoken English
UK fees
£24,000 (Total)
Available to UK residents only
Yes

Course overview

Medical students in clinical training

Physician associates (PAs) are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors to provide medical care. PAs are an integral part of the multidisciplinary team and work under the supervision of a named senior doctor (a General Medical Council registered consultant or general practitioner), to provide high quality care to patients in primary, secondary and community care environments.

Do and be more

Physician associates work within a defined scope of practice and limits of competence. Their roles and responsibilities include:

  • Taking medical histories.
  • Performing physical examinations.
  • Requesting and interpreting diagnostic tests.
  • Diagnosing illnesses.
  • Managing patients with long term illnesses.
  • Performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
  • Developing and delivering appropriate treatment and management plans.
  • Health promotion and disease prevention advice.

More information can be found on the Faculty of Physician Associate website.

Why consider being a Physician Associate?

As a PA, you’ll work with a wide range of healthcare professionals to provide health and social care to a diverse patient population. This will require you to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to be able to respond and adapt to different situations, be an effective team player with problem-solving skills and have a commitment to providing healthcare that is underpinned by the NHS Constitutional values.

The MSc in Physician Associate Studies is an intensive and challenging two-year course that requires commitment, discipline and organisation to juggle the demands of your academic studies with your clinical placements. You will be encouraged to learn autonomously and devise your own learning and support strategies.

Our course has been carefully developed to address local demand. It will equip you for clinical practice with early clinical exposure and cadaveric anatomy.

You’ll have close support from personal and academic tutors throughout the course, whilst also developing your independent learning and research skills. This course offers a high-quality learning experience where you have the opportunity to:

  • Learn from leading professionals whose teaching is underpinned by world-class research.
  • Gain experience from a diverse range of placements within Yorkshire and Humber, including major teaching hospitals, district general hospitals and general practices.
  • Develop professionally with the support of personal tutors, course tutors, support staff and peer mentoring.
  • Work with students from other healthcare related professions.

On our course, you’ll work with patients and carers from the Patient Carer Community (PCC). The members of the PCC support the teaching throughout the curriculum, through small group sessions in communication skills, workshops and assessments.

You can also undertake training in basic ultrasound techniques through the Resuscitation Council’s Immediate Life Support course.

More information

After successfully completing this programme you must take the national qualifying examination (which you are prepared for throughout the course) in order to practise as a Physician Associate in the UK.

More information can be found at the Faculty of Physician Associate website.

The University does not cover the cost of these exams.

Course details

Year 1

The first year of the MSc is mainly based on campus where anatomy, physiology, pathology and therapeutics are delivered in an integrated way. You’ll also spend one day a week on placement in primary care.

You will complete two modules:

Classroom to Clinic 1 – This module will introduce students to the attitudes, skills and knowledge required of a PA to enable students to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or the general practice team under defined levels of clinical supervision.

Spiralled learning, with a focus on increasing integration at a patient level and as a team member in the wider healthcare workforce, provides the framework for professional behaviour underpinned by clinical knowledge. A clinical skills e-portfolio will be maintained as evidence of attainment.

The learning outcomes will be met through both taught sessions and compulsory placements.

Foundations of Clinical Practice 1 – This module enables you to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or the general practice team under defined levels of clinical supervision.

You’ll also develop the underpinning scientific and evidence base for practice.

Year 2

The second year builds on the first year where there is a bigger focus on placement experience. You'll undertake block rotational placements primarily in secondary care, interspersed with campus weeks. Placements include:

  • Acute medicine.
  • General medicine.
  • Surgery.
  • Paediatrics.
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology.
  • Long-term conditions.
  • Cancer and palliative care.
  • Care of the elderly.
  • Mental health.
  • Musculoskeletal.
  • Primary care.

You will also have the opportunity to design and undertake a Quality Improvement Project over the course of the year.

You’ll also complete two modules:

Classroom to Clinic 2 – This module builds on Classroom to Clinic 1 to enable students to develop competence, skills, knowledge and attitudes required of a Physician Associate to enable them to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or the general practice team under defined levels of clinical supervision.

Spiralled learning, with a focus on increasing integration at a patient level and as a team member in the wider healthcare workforce, provides the framework for professional behaviour underpinned by clinical knowledge. A clinical skills e-portfolio will also be maintained as evidence of attainment.

The learning outcomes will be met through both taught sessions and compulsory placements.

Foundations of Clinical Practice 2 – This module enables you to consolidate and further develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to deliver holistic care and treatment within primary and secondary practice under defined levels of clinical supervision.

You’ll continue the spiralled learning from the first year of study to support your work on clinical placement.

Second-year students will be expected to build upon knowledge from Year 1 that is of relevance to a PA, and which underpins the scientific and evidence base for clinical practice.

Patient safety is paramount, and this strand of the programme is delivered over both years.

Research in Clinical Practice – This 60-credit masters project gives students the opportunity to implement an intervention resulting in a real impact on the quality of patient care. The module comprises individual supervision as well as taught sessions.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Physician Associate Studies MSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Classroom to Clinic 1 for Physician Associates 30
Foundation of Clinical Practice 1 for Physician Associates 30

Year 2 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Classroom to Clinic 2 for Physician Associates 30
Foundation of Clinical Practice 2 for Physician Associates 30
Research in Clinical Practice 60

Learning and teaching

This course will be delivered using a blended learning approach, combining lectures, tutorials, Self-Directed Learning (SDL), use of online materials, case-based discussions, skills sessions, and seminars to facilitate deeper learning and allow for a range of student learning preferences.

You’ll have access to a comprehensive range of e-learning resources. Self-assessment (under supervision) and continual assessment are also key elements of the programme.

Core Clinical Skills are taught by the Clinical Skills Education Team at the Clinical Practice Centre. The aim of these sessions is to ensure that all students can perform clinical skills in the clinical environment in a safe, competent and confident manner.

Our teaching is based on the NHS values. Our approach to teaching and learning is founded on the best educational practice and innovative delivery.

Outstanding learning resources in our Health Sciences Library and Clinical Practice Centre support your learning. Early exposure to clinical settings allows you to start developing your consultation and practical skills, as well your own style as a Physician Associate.

You’ll be taught by leading professionals, whose teaching is underpinned by world-class research. We’ll encourage you to develop independent learning and research skills in Year 2.

You’ll experience self-directed and group learning through the development of your e-portfolio and technology such as apps and online resources.

Case-based learning supports you in integrating your growing knowledge with the real patients you meet.

Inter-professional learning ensures you develop good leadership and team-working skills with other professional groups.

We take support of our students seriously. Regular contact with your personal tutor guides your academic progress and personal development, to enable you to achieve your full potential. Course tutors and support staff are all on hand to help. You’re supported by your fellow students through a peer mentoring scheme.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.

Assessment

A range of assessments are used to test your knowledge, understanding and clinical competence. These include project presentations, group work, written assignments and portfolios that describe placement performance, attendance and professionalism.

End of year exams include written exams and OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations). The written exams assess core knowledge and understanding of the material taught in that year (and previously) and include multiple choice questions (MCQs). These methods of assessment are used throughout the UK in undergraduate and post-graduate medicine as well as reflecting the format of the national examination. They follow a single best answer (SBA) rather than true-false approach, recognising this better reflects real-life medical decisions.

OSCEs assess core clinical skills and their application in the clinical specialties relevant to that examination and are held both years of study. They typically involve 14 or more clinical stations that require you to demonstrate a specific skill or consult with a patient. These patients are trained actors and their views on your behaviour also feed into the assessment. To pass, candidates are required to achieve the overall pass mark and pass a minimum number of stations. Both the OSCE and written exams have criterion-based pass marks, set by examiners.

Applying

Entry requirements

  • Bachelor degree with a minimum 2:2 (hons) in a biomedical science, health-related science or equivalent qualification. For example - but not limited to - Anatomical Science, Applied Medical Science, Biomedical Science, Biochemistry, Medical Genetics, Anatomy and Human Biology, Healthcare Science (EG Audiology and Cardiac Physiology), Nursing, and Allied Health Professions such as Radiography, Physiotherapy and Paramedic Studies.
  • Human anatomy and physiology is key to providing a foundation of learning for this course. Degrees such as Neuroscience, Pharmacy and Psychology will be reviewed for suitable levels of human anatomy and physiology content.
  • We will consider alternative academic qualifications on a case-by-case basis and - where necessary - ask for additional details of course and module content to review for suitable human anatomy and physiology content.

If in doubt, please email the Admissions Team to discuss the suitability of your degree and alternative options of study.

We encourage applications from candidates already working in healthcare and can demonstrate/evidence (usually through continuing Professional Development – CPD) the ability to study at Masters Level. This will apply to candidates who have not studied in the last 5 years.

Ideally, you should have recent experience of volunteering or employment in a healthcare setting/environment. However, we are also looking for transferable skills from other similar activities, such as voluntary work or paid employment.

Health and Disclosure and Barring Service Screening

Before starting the Physician Associate Studies course all successful applicants will also need to pass health and criminal record screening.

The University has a policy statement on students with criminal records. Read the current Criminal Records policy and Guidance for Applicants with Criminal Convictions here. For the vast majority of students who are resident in the UK the record will be checked via the Disclosure and Barring Service.

For students who do not have a five year UK address history: The DBS check can only include background checks on your time in the UK. If you have been resident in the UK for less than 3 years, then a criminal record check from your home country is required in addition to the UK DBS check. This may be referred to as a "Certificate of Good Conduct" (CoGC), but the name varies.

Any offer of a place to study Physician Associate Studies is conditional upon a satisfactory confidential occupational health assessment, which will include a health questionnaire, and if necessary further telephone consultation and/or an appointment with an occupational health clinician. Screening for serious communicable disease, (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and a review of immunisation status and needs, which includes COVID-19, will also be arranged before beginning your studies.

For students and applicants to the Faculty of Medicine and Health, please see our dedicated webpage for more information about Occupational Health.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.5 overall, with no less than 7.5 in spoken English. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

From 2023 entry onwards applications should be submitted via UCAS rather than the CRM system used for other School of Medicine postgraduate programmes.

The institution code for the University of Leeds is L23. The closing date will be aligned to the UCAS January deadline and can be found on the UCAS website. It should be noted that this programme does not accept applications for deferred entry.

Values-based recruitment is carried out across our vocational programmes. Candidates who apply to more than one vocational course in the School of Medicine will only be considered for one course. Please note that if a candidate demonstrates motivation and insight for another non-School of Medicine vocational course (e.g. nursing or dentistry) they will be rejected without further consideration.

Where possible, candidates who apply for multiple programmes within the School of Medicine will be informed that they must choose one course only.

The School of Medicine does not normally participate in the UCAS Extra scheme for entry onto the MSc Physician Associate Studies. The programme is not open to international applicants.

Please see the latest School of Medicine Admissions Appeals and Complaints Procedure.

Application & Selection Process

Offers are made on the basis of the ranked interview score and performance and the merit and ability of each candidate to meet the academic and non- academic criteria for the course. The decision is not made on achieved or predicted grades or work experience.

Applications for 2024 entry should be made via UCAS by their January deadline date.

A reference at the point of application is required from either your current employer or if you are a recent graduate the reference should be academic. Please see the personal statement guide on the school website.

A successful application passes through several stages before we can make an offer:

Stage 1

All applications received on time are reviewed looking at degree relevance and other academic evidence. The UCAS personal statement for each candidate will be screened for:

· Insight into motivation for the physician associate profession and the course

· Insight and understanding about the role of the physician associate in modern healthcare

Stage 2

As part of the application process for the MSc Physician Associate Studies course at the University of Leeds we invite all applicants to complete a further online information form (the Additional Information Form). The link to the form will be sent to applicants once they have submitted their application on completion of Stage 1. Applicants will be provided with several days to complete it.

Please be aware that we do not accept late submissions of Additional Information Form under any circumstances and failure to complete the form means that the applicant will not be considered for shortlisting for interview.

We would like applicants to consider their answers to the Additional Information Form carefully. Answers will be scored using predetermined descriptors and these scores, along with previous qualifications and the information of your UCAS form, will be used to shortlist applicants for interview.

The questions have been selected to allow applicants to demonstrate their motivation and insight into the profession along with some of the attributes we think are important in a Physician Associate. We hope that this process allows applicants to inform us about why they want to be a Physician Associate and why they want to study at the University of Leeds.

Candidates should be able to expand on their answers at interview.

The questions cover topics such as

· Previous experience in a role relevant to the work of a Physician Associate (including non-clinical experience) and how they have helped you making the decision to join this profession.

· Working in a clinical environment can be difficult. Applicants would be expected to consider if they have encountered a difficult situation.

· Hobbies and Interests. What do you as the applicant do outside of work or study and what impact does this have on their work/life balance?

Stage 3

We anticipate inviting around 90 candidates to interview. Using a face to face multiple mini interview format, the MMI process allows us to further assess candidates non- academic qualities. There are currently six interview stations, each interviewer will award marks according to a pre-determined standardised scale. From this a ranked score for each candidate. Those who do not rank high enough will be rejected from the process.

Stage 4

Those with the overall highest marks are offered places.

Offers are made on the basis of the ranked interview score and performance and the merit and ability of each candidate to meet the academic and non- academic criteria for the course.

Unfortunately, because of the nature and volume of applications and interviews, we are unable to provide specific individual feedback.

Admissions policy

School of Medicine Taught Postgraduate Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Medicine

Contact us

School of Medicine Postgraduate Admissions

Email: pa-admissions@leeds.ac.uk
Telephone:

Fees

UK: £24,000 (Total)

This programme is eligible for applicants to apply for the Postgraduate Master's Loan

All accepted applicants will receive a monthly paid bursary of 2.5K per year of study (5k in total for 2 years).

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

You will need to purchase books and equipment such as white lab coats, stethoscopes and pass cards. You will also have to meet travel costs whilst on placement. Placements will be throughout the Yorkshire region for both primary and secondary care placements, which have been approved and authorised by the School of Medicine.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

To be registered on the managed voluntary register as a Physician Associate you need to pass the national qualifying exam after you have gained the Physician Associate Studies programme. This exam is not part of this programme and the cost of the exam is not included in your course fees. Find out more at the Faculty of Physician Associates website.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

All accepted applicants will receive a monthly paid bursary of 2.5K per year of study (5k in total for 2 years).

Career opportunities

After qualifying as a PA you can expect to begin work as a Band 6 or 7. You will be part of an emerging UK profession, supported by the NHS and the Department of Health, and will follow a career path with proven success in the United States.

As a graduate PA, you will help to increase the numbers of the medical workforce and improve access to quality care for patients. You will act in an enabling role, helping to reduce the healthcare team’s workload. You will bring new talent to the NHS and add to the skill mix within the teams.

While trainee doctors and surgeons rotate through different specialties, PAs offer continuity of care for patients as well as institutional memory for the team in which they work. A PA also provides cover so that trainee doctors and surgeons can attend training, clinic or theatre.

The PA profession is moving towards regulation by the GMC – this is likely to take place towards the end of 2024.

More information about the profession and up to date information regarding regulation can be found via the Faculty of Physician Associates.