Cottrell, E, Silverwood, V, Strivens-Joyce, A, Minshull, L, Edwards, JJ, Lawton, SA, Aiello, M and Turner, S (2020) Acceptability of Physician Associate Interns in Primary Care: Results from a Service Evaluation. BMC Family Practice. ISSN 1471-2296 (Submitted)

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Abstract Background: Physician associates (PA) form part of the policy-driven response to increased primary care demand and a general practitioner recruitment and retention crisis. However, they are novel to the primary care workforce, have limitations such as being unable to prescribe and order ionising radiation investigations, and there are very limited directly-relevant data to guide the integration of PAs into primary care. To address this, a novel internship scheme was established in Staffordshire to support PAs entering primary care. This evaluation was designed to establish the acceptability of Physician Associate (PA) Interns within primary care. Methods: The Staffordshire PA Internship (SPAI) scheme was introduced in Staffordshire in 2017. PAs were concurrently working in primary and secondary care posts for one year, with protected weekly education sessions to equip them for work in primary care. Within the nine primary care practices hosting 10 PA interns in the first two cohorts, the PA interns, supervising GPs and practice managers, and patients who attended an appointment with a PA intern were invited to participate in the evaluation. Results: By evaluation end, eight of the ten PAs had completed the internship. Overall PA interns were acceptable to practices and patients, however there was ambiguity about the PA role itself, and how best to communicate this, as well as how to operationalise their roles. An expectation-preparedness gap was identified for PAs working in primary care. This resulted in high levels of supervision required for PA interns early within the internship. The internship provided a platform upon which the expectation-preparedness gap could be closed and made the high supervision requirements more acceptable to practices. Conclusions: This test-of-concept SPAI has highlighted that, to ensure successful integration of new PAs into primary care and to support them to reach their full potential, commitments to longer-term, sustainable, cohesive and appropriately funded schemes, including structured and standardised education and supervision, need to be delivered. Without such investment, there is a risk that acceptability of PAs in primary care, and PAs’ views of primary care careers, will be undermined before the profession has attained its full potential.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The current version and any other information related to it can be found online at;
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R735 Medical education. Medical schools. Research
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Primary, Community and Social Care
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2021 13:55
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2021 01:30

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