The KSS School of Physician Associates celebrated its launch on 24 August 2016 at East Surrey Hospital, hosted by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH).
The school, a partnership between Health Education England (HE KSS) and SASH, is the first of its kind and will provide ongoing support to physician associate students at the local universities now offering Physician Associate courses, qualified physician associates, as well as employers and supervisors in the region.
Physician associates are a new profession, not doctors but trained to the medical model and working under the supervision of a consultant or GP. SASH is now the largest employer of physician associates in the region.
Dr Natalie King, head of KSS School of Physician Associates and consultant at SASH, said: “I am passionate about the valued role that physician associates can make by offering a flexible and continuous workforce in a modern NHS. Our vision for the school is to develop a network of physician associates and supervisors to support the universities to ensure that we attract and retain the best talent in this field.”
Having identified the trust as a centre of excellence for physician associates, HE KSS asked SASH to develop a regional physician associate programme. A programme team was then appointed, firstly to advise local higher education institutions how to develop physician associate courses, then to engage local healthcare providers who would supervise the physician associates and employ them upon qualification.
Professor Graeme Dewhurst, postgraduate dean for Health Education England working across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, said: “I am delighted to see this important development, representing a great collaboration between four universities, very capably led by Michael Wilson CBE and Dr Natalie King of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. It demonstrates the commitment from Health Education England to promoting and supporting multi-professional healthcare education and training leading to better patient care.”
Also supporting the launch on behalf of the Faculty of Physician Associates was Emily Gooday, faculty of physician associates manager at the Royal College of Physicians, she said: “The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) are proud to be the membership body that provides professional support to physician associates and physician associate students across the UK. The FPA will campaign for progress and change for the profession to demonstrate the value of the physician associate role.”