Ireland’s first ever cohort of Physician Associate students have graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland at the College’s Higher Degree conferring ceremony.
While the Physician Associate role has grown rapidly internationally, it is a new healthcare profession to Ireland and RCSI is the first higher education institute in Ireland to offer an MSc in Physician Associate Studies.
The RCSI said Physician Associates (PAs) were highly skilled healthcare professionals who worked as members of medical teams in a wide variety of workplaces including all types of hospital and surgical care, GP practices and community health services.
PAs supported doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients and were trained to perform a number of roles including taking medical histories, performing examinations, making diagnoses and analysing test results. “Crucially, from the patient’s perspective, PAs can provide a continuity of care that is frequently absent in other healthcare roles.”
Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO/Registrar, RCSI said, “The Physician Associate role was introduced in the US more than 50 years ago and there are now more than 110,000 American PAs employed across a wide range of healthcare settings. In the UK, the first PA studies programme was introduced in 2008, with an intake of just 43 students across three schools. Today there are more than 30 programmes and almost 300 qualified PAs. Judging from the experience of the UK’s NHS, it is predicted that demand for qualified PAs will quickly grow in Ireland and RCSI is delighted to be at the forefront of this exciting new profession’.
The MSc in Physician Associate Studies is a two year, full-time intensive programme, open to applicants who already hold a Level 8 health science or science-related degree. In January 2018, RCSI welcomed the third cohort of PA students and applications are currently being accepted for January 2019.
RCSI physician associate graduates have been employed across Beaumont Hospital, the Mater Private and the Galway Clinic.