We’re all used to seeing doctors, nurses, midwives and health care support workers on wards but if you come into one of our hospitals you might also meet one of our Physician Associates. There are currently ten of these healthcare professionals at MTW, working in departments from A&E to Orthopaedics.
It’s a relatively new role in the UK, although it was first introduced in the US in the 1960s. This week is Physician Associate Week and a chance to highlight the work they do across the Trust to help us deliver outstanding patient care.
Physician Associates are medically trained healthcare professionals who work alongside our doctors, supporting in the diagnosis and management of patients and helping to ensure continuity of care.
As well as caring for patients, they can act as a point of contact for pharmacists and nursing staff, analyse test results, organise referrals, and can scrub in to assist with operations.
Jessica Plail is a Physician Associate Ambassador for Kent, Surrey and Sussex, and our Lead Physician Associate. She spent 10 years working in the sport arena before training as a Physician Associate.
Jess said: “I was the first Physician Associate to work in the Trust. The role was still very much in its infancy at that time, both regionally and nationally but this gave me the opportunity to begin to champion the role and I became the Lead PA for the Trust… I really enjoy the variety and learning new skills as well as having the balance of clinical and leadership roles.”
“I spent four years working in the Trauma and Orthopaedic (T&O) department and I spent time helping with on-calls, assisting in theatre and developed an interest in clinics. In my last year in T&O I worked with the foot and ankle team and ran a post op and forefoot overload clinic working closely with Mr Forder and Mr Freeman. I also learnt skills such as suturing, splinting and casting.”
Paidamoyo Muyambi is a Physician Associate in Trauma & Orthopaedics at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. After studying Human Anatomy at Edinburgh University she trained at Newcastle University and qualified last year.
Paidamoyo told us why the role is so important: “Physician Associates provide continuity for both patients and the department. You are there consistently so you get to follow through most patients’ care from start to finish. One of the nice things is when a new rotation of foundation doctors enters the department and you can help them get used to how things are done.”
“My role is a mixture of work on the wards, outpatient clinics, teaching my peers and Physician Associate students, and assisting in theatre. What I like most about my role is being part of a multidisciplinary team because this means I am constantly learning, and contributing, so my days never feel dull! Working at MTW is great because the team are friendly and supportive. My supervisors are always very encouraging in helping me to progress and expand my role.”
Emily Blanshard is a Physician Associate in the Acute Frailty Unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, and told us how much she enjoys working with patients: “I enjoy my role as I get to engage with patients who often have such fascinating stories. My role is challenging and I feel I am constantly learning! I also take great joy in helping those with dementia and delirium feel more settled in what can be a scary and unfamiliar environment.”
And finally, a word from Dr Peter Martin, Emergency Department Consultant and former Consultant Lead for PAs at the Trust, who told us how the work of our Physician Associates has helped support staff and patients across our hospitals:
“In the last six months our departments have really benefited from our highly motivated Physician Associates. Our patients have benefited from their care and attention to detail, and eagerness to attend those who have complex health care needs.”
We have witnessed this allied health care group grow in experience, through both clinical practice and focussed clinical supervision. We look forward to welcoming more into our Emergency Department team!”