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Physician Associate students working on the frontline in pandemic

Students studying at the University of Worcester to become Physician Associates have been out working in hospitals and surgeries as the Country continues to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Twenty-six of Worcester’s final year MSc Physician Associate students have continued in their placements across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, providing support to the clinical teams, seeing patients and reducing workloads where possible. 

Physician Associates provide crucial support to doctors, including patient examination, diagnosis and treatment, in GP surgeries or hospitals.  This has, in some cases, also included working directly with patients with Covid-19.  Students have also worked in clinical support roles, such as health care assistant roles, over their Easter holidays or when their normal placements have had to stop, supporting staff in Intensive Care Units, A&E and hospital wards, such as respiratory and acute medicine.

Liz Davies-Ward, Head of the School of Allied Health and Community, said: “Our Physician Associates have shown amazing commitment and have stepped up wherever they could to bolster the healthcare workforce, helping to alleviate pressure on NHS community level services and hospital care.  The whole teaching team is very proud of how our students have stepped up to help wherever they can, whilst also working to qualify as Physician Associates to enter the healthcare workforce permanently.”

The Physician Associate students have been keeping in close contact through their student society, offering each other support throughout this time. Society Chair, Andy McDonough, said he and other members of the Society’s Committee – Elizabeth, Laura, Jack and Naeemah – were proud of their fellow students.

“Many of the third years have been working during the current pandemic, doing all they can to help patients and the NHS,” he said. “The students have really stepped up to the mark. It is daunting but we have all had fantastic support from the University and we are doing what we have been training for.”

Physician Associate students must undertake 1,600 hours in practice as part of their training, working in both primary and secondary care. The University of Worcester was the first university in the UK to launch a Physician Associate Master’s course, back in September 2014.