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Fourteen students have commenced the course this month and come from the “general and biomedical sciences, with some from health professions’ backgrounds”. Course fees are €12,000 per year.
A Physician Associate (PA) works as a member of a medical team under the supervision of a doctor or surgeon, according to the RCSI. They are trained to perform various roles, including taking medical histories, performing examinations, making diagnoses and analysing test results. They do not have prescribing authority in Ireland.
The RCSI commenced its two-year PA course in January 2016 with an intake of seven students. The College is also pivotally involved in a pilot project where PAs are being trialled at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. This pilot began in 2015 as a two-year project involving four PAs recruited from abroad, although recruitment is ongoing to fill one position since vacated.
The College informed MI there is not yet a timeline as regards the regulation of PAs.
“The pilot project is currently undergoing evaluation by the Department of Health,” the RCSI’s spokesperson commented.
The RCSI has also launched a scholarship programme in conjunction with the Bon Secours Health System to “support interested candidates in pursuing a Physician Associate career path”. Under the initiative, two candidates will be part-funded for the January 2018 programme.
“This is a recent collaboration with the Bon Secours Group. Details are on the RCSI website. Students currently rotate across the public and private sectors as part of the programme and the Bon Secours Group is included in these rotations,” said the RCSI’s spokesperson.
Currently, there are no other PA programmes in the Republic of Ireland. Last year, Ulster University launched a Postgraduate Diploma in Physician Associate Studies, with 14 students admitted for the 2016/2017 intake.