Can you progress as a physician associate?

This blog post is in response to these FAQ.

  • Can you progress as a physician associate?
  • I want to do PA studies, but I have heard you cannot progress?
  • Can you progress as a physician associate?
  • Does physician associate have progression?

and the simple answer is yes.


I have been lucky enough to progress in 3 key pillars of my career after finishing MSc Physician Associate Studies. I have progressed in my clinical role, I have moved into a role within Health Education England and I am currently doing my doctoral research degree. 

I know progression exists,  from personal experience and from experience with close friends  and mentees who have completed the MSc or PGDIP in Physician Associate Studies and are thriving in their careers. 

Before answering this question it is best to explain where this problematic MYTH comes from. 

Comparison with Medicine & Nursing.

From inception, the physician associate profession has been compared to medicine, medicine has a very clear cut trajectory. This trajectory has been build over decades by physicians around the world. Then when comparisons with medicine became futile, nursing is often dragged in and i have seen many inaccurate info graphs painfully describing the difference between PA and ANP.

Often when doing pros and cons, the differences are exaggerated and reduced into two binary fields. 

i.e medicine has progression THEREFORE physician associates do not. 

The lack of statutory regulation.

Physician associates are not currently regulated at statutory level therefore they are not eligible for the some CPD courses that are well known to fast track the career prospects of non-medical clinicians;

  1. They are currently not eligible for the V300 Non medical prescribing Qualification.
  2. They are currently not eligible to complete the e-IRMER (Ionising Radiation Medical Exposure)
  3. They do not meet the definition set by HEE for Advanced Clinical Practice.

These are the facts, but what does this mean for PA-r progression.

Things physician associates cannot do are often overstated!

What do I mean by this. Take any other non-medical health profession Physiotherapy, dramatherapy, Nursing or Occupational therapy.

Does every nurse prescriber medication. NO.

Does every physiotherapist order x-rays. NO. 

Is every Occupational Therapist an ACP. NO. 

Is every Pharmacist a Prescriber. NO

Just because your profession is eligible for this CPD does not mean that you(personally) will do it. AND YET.. we recognise that these vital clinicians can contribute to patient care without prescribing medications, without ordering ionising radiation and without being ACP.

A Paradigm Shift is Needed.

Career progression takes careful planning and networking, before this stage you need to affirm what you are. You are educated, you have a masters degree. You have great people skills. You are organised. Why wouldn't you progress.

Also progression is a personal venture, having a degree in physician associate studies is one of the many things you have. It is not the only thing you have. It does not define you instead, it adds to paint a picture of what you bring to the table. 

What NEXT?

  1. Think about what you want out of your career. 
  2. Write a 10, 5 , 3 year goal
  3. Where are you now? be realistic.
  4. What resources and networks can get you to where you want to be?
  5. Now get started.

How can I help you ?

Follow me on instagram where I share my research journey and give application tips.

Find me on YouTube some useful videos.

I run monthly virtual events you can find them here. 

Search some of my courses, blue prints and how to guides here.

Book a 1:1 session with myself to start planning your goals.