Over the last 2 and half years, North Staffordshire GP Federation have continued to lead the way on a pioneering and unique Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship with many renowned successes to date.
Use the tabs below to find out more about the internship.
Originally conceived by the North Staffordshire GP Federation and The University Hospitals of the North Midlands NHS Trust working in partnership to develop the internship, the scheme has expanded to also include Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust and a growing list of enthusiastic GP practices across the county of Staffordshire.
This programme offers a 1-year internship working predominantly across primary and secondary care with further opportunities to work full time in primary care. In addition to the training and support provided, the internship offers an excellent opportunity to attend weekly ½ day educational sessions to complete a bespoke Primary Care Syllabus for those PAs particularly in their first 1-2 years post qualifying.
The internship provides an opportunity for, predominantly, new PAs to develop skills in primary care with a supported, supervised and subsidised scheme. This allows both practices and PAs to learn how they can best work together.
In October 2017, our journey commenced with 3 PAs. To date the programme has recruited 7 intakes of PAs across Staffordshire, a total of 24 PAs, with a further intake of 2 PAs to commence shortly.
- In October 2017, the internship commenced with 3 PAs working
- In March 2018, the second cohort commenced with 7 PAs
- In July 2018, the third cohort commenced with 2 PAs
- In November 2018, the fourth cohort commenced with 5 PAs
- In March 2019, the fifth cohort commenced with 2 PAs
- In July 2019, the sixth cohort commenced with 3 PAs
- In December 2019, the seventh cohort commenced with 2 PAs
In addition, the internship has been extended to our neighbouring STP footprint in Shropshire & Telford supporting 5 PAs and a further 2 PAs to commence shortly. We are proud to have supported and achieved a total of 29 PAs through the internship across Staffordshire and Shropshire, with a further 4 PAs to join very shortly.
Blue indicates number of PAs for each cohort intake. Orange indicates the number of PAs on the internship programme at a given point in time
PA Retention Rates:
The programme has seen a significantly high PA retention rate after completion of the internship. At the end of the PA’s internship, 86% of practices offer their PAs a permanent full-time position. In addition, the programme has seen a number of GP practices who have asked for a second PA from the internship programme
Dr Sharon Turner, Clinical Lead for the Internship Director of NSGPF
Alex Scrivens-Joyce PA Ambassador & PA-R
Lucy Minshull, Project Manager
Dr Amrik Jheeta, Senior GP Tutor
Dr Anil Sonnathi, GP Tutor
Dr Elizabeth Cottrell, Senior Lecturer in General Practice
This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of something really unique as you continue your professional development as a Physician Associate. All our job opportunities for the internship programme are advertised on NHS Jobs and the recruitment is managed through our project team. You will be allocated to a practice /PCN through mutual agreement and may depend on a number of factors such as geographical location, opportunities and practice /PCN demographics.
Originally conceived by the North Staffordshire GP Federation and The University Hospitals of the North Midlands working in partnership, the scheme now includes other Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust and a growing list of enthusiastic GP practices across the county of Staffordshire.
This unique opportunity offers either newly qualified or 1st year post qualifying PAs to spend time in both primary and secondary care, whilst continuing their professional development.
To date the programme has recruited 9 intakes of PAs across Staffordshire, a total of 31 PAs
How it works
Working 3 days a week in a local GP Practice or 5 days per week in GP Practice, you’ll support the GP team and primary care staff; with a further 2 days per week in secondary care within a chosen specialism from acute medicine including A&E, outpatients and mental health; you’ll be supporting a team of Consultants, Junior Doctors, Nursing staff and Therapists within the department and wards.
You’ll assess and examine patients, manage a specific caseload of patients, present them, initiate and interpret investigations and recommend treatment, whilst exercising a high level of professional judgment and expertise when delivering care.
You’ll be supervised by a designated Consultant and work alongside a highly-trained and committed multi-disciplinary team, working collaboratively with other members of the clinical team within the Trust’s policies and clinical guidelines
You’ll be expected to work with your supervisor and practice manager to plan a timetable. This will include pre-booked and book on the day consultations, initially at 30 minutes per consult and in time some home visits. There should be opportunity to attend in house clinical teaching, practice meetings, palliative care and multi disciplinary team meetings. Quality assurance and audit work for Physicians Associates could be offered by practices in the second six months.
This is a very exciting, very rewarding but demanding environment.
Length of the programme is 1 year
The Teaching Programme
In addition to the training and support provided with the joint roles, the internship offers you an excellent opportunity to attend weekly ½ day educational sessions to complete a bespoke Primary Care Syllabus for those PAs particularly in their first 1-2 years post qualifying. This also allows you to network with all PAs on the internship on a weekly basis
Currently the internship tuition is in group format and at present due to Covid-19 is virtual through Microsoft Teams. It is led by a very experienced GP Trainer, supported by our PA Ambassador and one other GP Trainer.
The curriculum is a compressed RCGP curriculum, covering essentials such as clinical medicine, results interpretation, clinical problem solving, case discussions, and more recently the introduction of simulated cases etc. The tuition more than covers the Faculty requirements of 50 CPD credits necessary for the voluntary register.
Meeting colleagues every week encourages peer support, develops understanding of the role in primary care and enhances personal knowledge and skills.
Experience through practice supervision is also enhanced through monthly case based discussions, consultation observations, and regular supervision reports.
A final case presentation to the group completes the 12 month programme of learning.
GP Practice Pre-requisites
GP Practices must have at least ‘good’ on their latest CQC inspection, have experience of training clinicians and demonstrate their induction programme. They must have a doctor who is willing to supervise and be the named supervisor on the FPA managed voluntary register.
Induction will be through the usual mechanisms at the practice PCN and will include getting to know staff, IT systems and mandatory training.
What you need
Demonstrate you have successfully passed your UK National Physician Associate Examination. Those waiting to sit their national exams are not eligible to apply on this occasion
You’ll hold a science-related degree prior to graduating from an established UK Physician Associate Training programme, which follows the Department of Health’s Competence Curriculum Framework.
You’ll need to demonstrate your commitment to work in Staffordshire.
You will also be registered with the Managed Voluntary Register for Physician Associates prior to commencing the internship.
You will require a full UK driving licence
Quick thinking, flexible and thorough professionals will find the post to their liking.
What to do next
For further details on the next PA intake, please contact Lucy Minshull – Project Manager Lucy@howbeckhealthcare.co.uk
The Top Up Masters in Primary Care Evaluation
In partnership with Keele University, PAs who have completed the Staffordshire PA Internship programme are eligible to apply for 100% sponsorship for a top up of their postgraduate PA diploma to a Masters in Primary Care Evaluation
The Top Up Masters in Primary Care Evaluation
The top up has two elements to the programme: the research module and a dissertation. The research module is the first one to access in October and March. Keele University have two options for this research module, a face-to-face and an on-line version.
You will find there are 4 study days for the research module. These are grouped in 2 days a month apart in October and November/March and April.
You should start to think at the beginning of the programme about your dissertation project which usually tends to be an audit or service evaluation project. You will have supervision support for your dissertation
Duration: 12 month programme
Contact: Lucy Minshull, Project Manager. Lucy@howbeckhealthcare.co.uk or
Dr Sharon Turner, Clinical Lead. Sharon.Turner@northstaffs.nhs.uk
Staffordshire Primary Care Advanced Practitioners CPD Programme
In conjunction with Staffordshire Training, this Summer 2020, we are establishing a 12 month ‘Advanced Practitioner CPD Programme’ involving a syllabus incorporating novel topics such as an introduction to the business aspects of general practice, management / leadership theory to prepare for lead roles. It is envisioned that this programme would be suitable for Advanced Practitioners (APs) including: Physician Associates (PA), Urgent Care Practitioners (UCP) and Advanced Paramedics.
Eligibility criteria for inclusion to attend the programme is: any APs, PAs or UCPs who are post 1 year qualified, who are employed by a practice or PCN in Staffordshire undertaking the majority of their work in this area. Funding is available to provide backfill to attend the programme.
We would like to hear from you if you are interested in taking part in the programme or would like more information, contact Alex Strivens-Joyce, PA Lead Facilitator Alex.Strivens-Joyce@wales.nhs.uk or Lucy Minshull Lucy@howbeckhealthcare.co.uk
“Our PA has settled in very well with the primary healthcare team; being accessible throughout the day to her colleagues. She is enthusiastic to make a difference and is making an impact on our GPs time by assessing and offering assistance to both our longer term condition and frailty patients. “
Beccy Smith – Business Partner
“The freedom offered by being a Physician Associate is great. Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are at the forefront when it comes to being a PA; none of the other internships that exist provide the teaching aspect and the fact that you can work in both primary and secondary care is fantastic. PAs can offer a lot to a GP practice or other NHS healthcare provider; likewise, the teaching, training and supervision you receive in this patch is excellent.”
Physician Associate – Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship
“Having now completed the internship I realise now, how much helpful it was. There is very much a difference between when I started and when I completed the internship in terms of my knowledge and also my confidence working in primary care.
I had the opportunity to work both in primary care and in secondary care. The internship allowed me to bridge the gap between being a graduate and actually working as a physician associate in general practice. I realised there was a lot to learn especially with keeping up to date with the guideline and current practice.
Every week we had tutorials, where we even discussed cases that we encountered during the week among other different topics. This was very useful as we also discussed challenges we faced and the solutions to those challenges. Meeting other physician associates was also comforting knowing there were others in the same boat.
I felt very supported and I am very grateful to have done this internship. I have learnt so much from my hospital placement, my GP placement and the tutorials and everyone that made it possible.
After the placement I was even helped secure my next job, which really helped a lot. Thanks to Dr Jon and Lucy.
Overall it’s been a great internship, and I definitely recommend it to anyone!”
Physician Associate – Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship
“I have found the internship to be a valuable experience and a core aid to help me further develop as a Physician Associate. I am currently working full time in General Practice. I have become confident in diagnosing and managing patients. The internship is perfect for newly qualified Physician Associates to help build upon experience and knowledge. The internship has highlighted the need for more Physician Associates to help with the workforce in the NHS. My practice has embraced me as their first Physician Associate. I have been able to help reduce appointment waiting times with GPs. I am currently seeing unfiltered Pre-book appointments, as well as on the day urgent appointments. In addition to this, I do home visits and help with the workflow by interpreting blood results for the practice. The broad skill set and generalist training is an asset to any field in medicine, especially primary care.”
Physician Associate - Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship
“Our PA is doing brilliantly, very pleased at how she’s settling in. Having now worked with her she’s already well ahead of where I expected her to be…. A real credit to her training and her own professionalism.”
“I have been part of the 12 month Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship and currently in my fifth week. I was firstly interested in this post as it offers exposure into two clinical areas, primary and secondary care. Thus, providing introductory experiences to both capacities and highlighting the different patient needs and care provided. Additionally, the weekly teaching sessions with other individuals involved in the internship appealed to me as this offers ongoing support and training. This enables the sharing of experiences into different primary and secondary care providers. I have been well supported by all members of staff involved in the Internship. “
Physician Associate – Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship
“Our PA has settled in really well. This role is new but the practice has found it easy to welcome a new role into the team, testimony to the PA’s enthusiasm. A supportive induction has been vital but now we have moved to the PA having their own patients it has allowed some independent working. We’re starting to gradually develop other roles such as residential home support, computer searches to improve quality of care and holistic management of our over 85’s. I think the role of a PA will definitely been asset to Primary Care.”
Dr Alwyn Ralphs
PA Clinical Supervisor in General Practice
“This is the only programme like this in the UK. In the relatively short time since it was launched, we now have 17 Physician Associates working across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, with more on the way – all of whom are helping to bolster general practice, acute and mental health care locally. That’s extremely rewarding for me and a real feather in the cap for the local system here.”
PA Ambassador – Shropshire & Staffordshire
“All the staff have been positive with his feedback and he gets on with seeing the patients quietly, confidently and more importantly safety nets and seeks advice where appropriate. He has a named supervisor each day [weekly timetable] so he knows who to speak to for advice and I think this is really important. We had a good thorough induction whereby he sat in with team members as well as GPs so as well as clinical learning it has also forged relationships. I think this is also very valuable and also enabled Pete to get ready for seeing patients independently. He joins in with the staff at lunchtime during ‘downtime’ and, again, I think this is conducive to his learning and development and embedding himself in to our very close knit team.”
Julie Stokes – Practice Manager
HSJ Value Awards 2019 Finalist
Academic Evaluation of the Internship
HEE Webinar platform for sharing good practice
BBC Midlands Today & the Politics Show
HEE deemed internship as ‘National Policy’
WONCA 2019 International paper submitted for consideration
First Physician Associate in Primary Care Conference 2019
Expansion of the internship programme in Shropshire & Telford Wrekin and Birmingham & Solihull
Staffordshire Physician Associate (PA) Internship Programme Update – December 2021
North Staffordshire GP Federation have been leading the way since 2017 with their unique and innovative Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) endorsed Staffordshire Physician Associate (PA) Internship. Initially the programme began with three interns who went on to graduate but we are pleased to announce that now, in its fourth year, and having expanded to cover Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin back in 2019, it will see it's 50th PA graduate in 2022.
With 85% of interns being retained by their host practice, this 12-month specialty training scheme combines weekly teaching and simulation with work-based assessments and support for both interns and their host GP Practice and Primary Care Network (PCN). Through utilising the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) and the Health Education England (HEE) funding, the project team have been able to offer comparable funding arrangements for interns similar to that of GP trainees.
This year the project team were asked to set up a new internship model across Merseyside and Cheshire, in addition to the Birmingham and Solihull programme. The team are now working with Training Hubs and PCNs across the Midlands to support the development of additional PA training schemes from 2022.
From April 2021, Dr Sankari Perumal has taken over the role as clinical lead for the programme. Dr Sankari states, “I am very much looking forward to taking over the role from Dr Sharon Turner who has now retired having been the driving force behind establishing the Staffordshire PA Internship. I hope to be able to follow the momentum and legacy she has created with the founding team.” Lucy Minshull (also a founding member of the team) continues as Project Manager. Dr Jon Wright and Dr Amrik Jheeta are both experienced GP Tutors on the programme. To support the expansion of the programme, recruitment has commenced for additional tutors.
Alex Strivens PA-R who joined the team in 2017 and has been the PA Tutor/ Educational Supervisor, having developed the curriculums plus competency framework for the Internships. Alex has now taken up the role of Training Programme Director (TPD) with responsibility for the internship programmes. Clinically he is a PA Partner in General Practice on the Powys / Shropshire border.
As we approach statutory regulation (GMC) and prescribing for PAs in 2023 we are starting to have our first insights into the future of post qualification training for PAs with the publication of the draft Core Capabilities Framework and PA Curriculum.
If post regulation we were to see a formal foundation programme for PAs introduced, then these models would pivot to delivering speciality training on completion of that programme and are designed to integrate with the PA Apprenticeship standard.
For further information please contact Lucy@Howbeckhealthcare.co.uk