How will you be part of the team? Lessons from the first PAs on a UK hospital service

Lessons from the first PAs on a UK hospital service


  • Tamara Ritsema George Washington University
  • Lillian Navarro-Reynolds Oregon Health and Sciences University



Physician Assistant, Physician Associate, Health Workforce, United Kingdom


The Physician Associate (PA) profession is relatively new to the British National Health Service.  PAs have been educated in the United Kingdom since the mid-2000’s, but only recently have universities begun training large numbers of PAs.  More than 70% of all UK PAs work in hospitals, but there is little published literature about the experiences of these PAs.  This brief report is a sub-study of a larger grounded theory study on the barriers and facilitators to the integration of PAs into the NHS .  PAs who had been the first PA on a secondary care service in the NHS were recruited.  The PAs in this study were asked what advice they would share with those who are initiating the PA role on a specific hospital service.  PAs advised their colleagues to: 1) Be able to explain the Physician associate role succinctly and clearly, 2) Manage expectations for the PA role, 3) Be honest and trustworthy.  Know the limits of your knowledge and training, 4) Take initiative in all areas of your professional life, 5) Be a good team member, 6) Be patient and have perseverance, and 7) Get involved to solve administrative issues.  This study has limited generalizability as a qualitative study, but the themes raised by these PAs may help newly graduated PAs achieve a successful transition.  These data may also guide PA educators around the world as they prepare their students to enter hospital practice.

Author Biography

Lillian Navarro-Reynolds, Oregon Health and Sciences University

Lillian Navarro-Reynolds has worked in PA education for ten years. She started as faculty in the UK and transitioned to the US in 2016. Her clinical background is in family medicine and endocrinology. She is the Director of Academic Education at Oregon Health and Science University.


Ritsema T. 2018 Faculty of Physician Associates Census Results [Internet]. London: Royal College of Physicians; 2018 Aug [cited 2018 Nov 21] p. 13. Available from:

Health Education England. Investing in People Workforce Plan for England 2015-16 [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2018 Nov 14]. Available from:

Williams LE, Ritsema TS. Satisfaction of doctors with the role of physician associates. Clin Med (Lond). 2014 Apr;14(2):113–6.

Roberts S, Howarth S, Millott H, Stroud L. Experience of the impact of physician associates on -postgraduate medical training: A mixed methods -exploratory study. Clin Med (Lond). 2019 Jan;19(1):4–10.





How to Cite

Ritsema, T., & Navarro-Reynolds, L. (2023). How will you be part of the team? Lessons from the first PAs on a UK hospital service: Lessons from the first PAs on a UK hospital service. The Journal of Canada’s Physician Assistants, 4(9), 12–18.