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Past Questions

  1. Hi Matthew. What are the career prospects like for the PGDip Physician Associate Studies internationally? Can I still work as PA in other countries with this qualification? If so, which countries are more likely to employ PAs?

    Hi, this is a really interesting question for me as I am a UoB trained PA working abroad. As things stand, UK PAs cannot practice medicine outside of the UK despite PAs being common practice in the US and large parts of Europe. This may change in the future, but it is best not to gamble with this idea. Once qualified as a UK PA, your main options for working abroad are in academia (such as myself), the Pharma industry or any other scientific or medical role which is non-clinical in nature. For me, working abroad was one of the best decisions I have made and I take comfort in the fact that I can always return and practice in the UK should I ever wish to do so. If you are adamant that you want to work as a PA in clinical practice in other countries, I believe studying to become a PA in the US would enable you to practice internationally, including of course in the US and the UK, but you should do further research to confirm this. In summary, while your UK qualification ties you to clinical practice in the UK, there are lots of exciting work opportunities for you abroad if that is something which you wish to consider in the future! All the best!

  2. Were you able to get a job as a PA as soon/ within a few months of graduating? Also how did you go about maintaining a studying/social life e.g family & friends, balance?

    I qualified back in 2016 when the PA profession was not nearly as big or as established as it is now. At that time there were not many job listings on NHS jobs as there are now (now there are often several pages of PA jobs compared with one or two listings during my studies!). I was fortunate to be offered a position in general practice by the GP partners where I had my community based medicine placement and subsequent elective placement. When you are nearing the end of your studies, it is always a good opportunity to show motivation and drive on your clinical placements and speak directly to the team about work opportunities thereafter, having showcased yourself. Furthermore, as mentioned above, there are a lot more job listings on NHS jobs these days which is a clear bonus, but of course this increased demand correlates with an increased supply from an increased number of PA students and graduated PAs.

  3. Hello Matthew, I hope you are doing well. I am a recent Biomedical Science graduate and I initially wanted to work for about 2 years before considering further studies. However, I have decided to carry on my studies sooner rather than later, so I am applying for a postgraduate in Physician Associate Studies. Do you have any recommendations on how best to go about writing a personal statement for the application process, especially with not having much laboratory or clinical experience? Also, could you also give an insight of what the interview was like? Thank You.

    Hi, congratulations on your recent graduation! I think the main consideration here is that there is a reason why clinical experience is considered an essential component to almost all PA/ med schools. The fact is that experience in healthcare really helps us to make informed decisions about our future (clinical) careers and therefore I would advocate for volunteer work in a healthcare facility which you can then incorporate into your personal statement and discuss how this has helped shape your desire to be a PA. There are still many unknowns around the role of PAs in the NHS and therefore shadowing a PA would be the most ideal work experience for your chances of admission and your future clinical career. I went from my undergraduate degree in a similar field (Human Biology) to PA school within less than a year, however during that time I worked on a ward in the NHS. While it was a non-clinical role, I was working closely with the healthcare team gaining valuable insights which confirmed my desire to work in healthcare. All the best!

  4. Hi, I have a Masters in a Pharmaceutical degree with honours (scoring a 2:2) Am I eligible to apply?

    Hi, specific questions relating to admissions should be sent to the UoB admissions department. Best wishes!

  5. Hello,

    Hope all is well, I am reaching out to you to ask what made you choose PGdip Physician Associate Studies over MSc Physician Associate Studies. Is there any difference in job opportunities?

    Hi, at UoB, you must first complete your PGDip in PA studies prior to enrolling on the MSc. The MSc is useful for senior PAs to progress in their career, in hospital medicine but even more so in academia. Hope this helps!

  6. Hi Mathew, I am a current second year Adult Nursing student and I am interested in applying for PA postgraduate study. Can I ask how does the placement allocation works? Do they send you to different areas in West Midland or are they based only in Birmingham?

    Hi, when I was a PA student at Birmingham university, the hospital placements did vary in location somewhat. That being said, the faculty always did their best to accommodate special requests (to remain local) but I imagine it is still the case that given hospitals cannot be completely guaranteed. Some placements did require some further travel for many students. All the best

  7. Hi Matt, is it necessary for me to take an undergraduate course before getting into PA school since I’ve completed my Alevels?

    Hi, this is a post-graduate course which requires a strong scientific and fundamental background knowledge in the form of a scientific or healthcare-related undergraduate degree. If you are set on becoming a PA then a healthcare related degree such as nursing, physiotherapy or pharmacy would stand you in good stead and also demonstrate a commitment to medicine. Best wishes

  8. Hi Matthew, I am a clinical associate student in their final year at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. The clinical associate program in South Africa is the equivalent to the Physician Associate program in the UK. I am interested in doing my elective rotation, from the 20th September 2021 to the 15th October 2021 at the University of Birmingham. Any guidance or advice would be greatly appreciated. I know with Covid-19, this proves to be very challenging, however I am very motivated to do the best that I can in ensuring my goal becomes a reality. South Africa has the vaccine and I have booked to have my vaccine done sometime this week. If you know anyone I could contact further that would be great!

    Hi, as a post-graduate mentor I'm afraid I can't really help too much with this specific enquiry. I would recommend getting in touch with the UoB PA admissions team who will be able to advise further or point you in the right direction of relevant departments. All the best with your ambitions for your elective placement. Best wishes

  9. Hi there, I recently applied for Physician Associate Studies at the University of Birmingham and I am shortlisted for interview. Can you please guide me on the interview? I am from Pakistan and I have completed my bachelor in Medical Science. I also want to know after completing this course will I be able to apply for post graduate work permit because I am worried will this diploma leads to psw visa or not because it is post graduate diploma not a MSc? Thanks.

    Hi, congratulations on being shortlisted for interview. I can only advise as a previous student of UoB and a qualified PA so your question regarding a work permit would be best directed to the UoB PA admissions department. Regarding the interview, you should demonstrate a continued commitment to the medical field and demonstrate knowledge of the PA profession in the UK. It is also worth keeping in mind that you can 'top up' your PGDip to an MSc through UoB at a later date should you wish to do so. Best wishes

  10. Hi Mathew, I am set to complete a BSc in Occupational Therapy in the coming months. I am very keen to undertake the PA training. Can you tell me does my clinical placements (1000 hours) contribute to strengthening my application? Also with COVID now how is theory being taught? Thank you.

    Hi there, your BSc in occupational therapy will be considered advantageous, in terms of the content covered, your clinical experience and a commitment to healthcare. With regard to how the pandemic is effecting the taught component, I would recommend discussing this directly with the PA admissions team (via UoB website) who will be able to advise you further or put you in touch with the relevant department as I completed my studies prior to the pandemic. All the best!

  11. Hi, is it possible to manage working alongside this PG dip, I work fulltime at the minute as it is flexible around my current course. I was wondering what a typical week looks like on the PA?

    Hi, the PA programme requires 50 hours per week of participation/self-study/placement. I therefore do not recommend trying to balance this commitment with part-time work. While part-time work may be possible for some students with prior medical knowledge and significant experience, you should keep in mind that during this programme, you should aim to learn as much as possible, not only for your exams but for your future clinical career and patients and therefore the course should be your main focus. I understand that there may well be a need to fund the programme, in which case I would recommend building up some more funds prior to starting the course rather than trying to balance with with a very intense curriculum.

  12. What is MSc Physician Associate studies in this University like? I am interested in campus life and the course etc.

    The MSc is only open for students who have first obtained the PGDip in PA studies. Campus life is engaging and I enjoyed the interaction with my colleagues but this may of course be interrupted at the moment due to the pandemic. The course is an intense and challenging two year programme where you will study via PBL and CBL and there is significant emphasis on self-study. I recommend you spend some time shadowing PAs and discuss further with them how they have found their studies and clinical careers thereafter.

  13. Hi Matthew, I wanted to ask about the career progressions for PAs, can you help?

    Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    I can't speak for personal experience but you can view employability information on our website:

    If you have more questions, please email to speak to a member of staff from the relevant department.

    I also found this page on Prospects which gives a good overview of the course and careers:

    Best wishes, PG Recruitment

  14. Hi, Matthew. I am very interested in pursing a MSc in Physician Associate Studies. However, I am worried about my GPA in undergrad effecting my acceptance. My undergraduate course work was completed in 2017 and I took courses like biology, chemistry, inorganic chemistry, genetics, and biochemistry. I will be going back to school, and I am nervous I won't get in based on GPA. Any advice? I'll be an international student from the US.

    Hi, I understand your concerns. I would recommend that you obtain as much healthcare experience as possible to demonstrate that you are committed to studying medicine and pursuing a career in medicine. In some cases, this may be considered where applicants do not quite meet the academic requirements.

  15. Hi Matthew, I am a third year student currently studying Nursing. I am thinking of doing the PA course after I finish this course, however I needed some advice on the course. I have heard mixed reviews from people but I haven't spoken to anyone who has completed the course, so I'm so glad that I've come across your profile here :)

    Firstly, I wanted to know how intense the course is? Does it consist of heavy theory combined with placement? What are the exams like? Is there any research element? Also I heard that it is 50+ hours per week, does this mean that it'll be difficult to do anything else on the side? I was thinking of carrying on my nursing shifts too. I heard it's like studying medicine in 2 years.

    I also saw that the pay rises a lot just from the course, cause you can already imagine nurses start at 25 or something ridiculous with 12 hour shifts...erghhhh, and that brings me onto my next question about the hours that you work after qualification, is it the same as a medical student?

    Would you please be able to tell me the main advantages and disadvantages of the course and anything I should know that you feel is important before I start the course, because right now I am thinking of it but have not made any firm decisions.

    I would really appreciate it if you help me out, I'm sorry about the long message but I thought it's best to ask you about my concerns.

    Hi, I am more than happy to provide you with some first-hand experience here. The programme is very intense, you will study to the medical model during the PA programme (and no longer the nursing model). Your education and experience in healthcare will be very valuable but there will be a lot of new content. It is indeed expected that students will spend 50 hours per week studying throughout the entire programme although this will vary slightly depending on the individual and the prior experiences. I would strongly recommend not counting on part-time work. It may be the case that you can rarely pick up a nursing shift, but it would not be wise to rely on this as a form of part-time income as it would more than likely be overwhelming to try to juggle both. I speak from experience when two members of my cohort were previously trained nurses. The hours you work after qualification will largely depend on your contract and whether you decide to work in primary or secondary care. In my experience, it is easier to negotiate hours that suit you personally in a general practice setting. The key here is to realise that this is an intense, challenging 50-hour per week programme but it is also incredibly rewarding and sets you up for a career as a medical professional. I strongly recommend some time shadowing PAs and having some more in-depth conversations with them about their studies and clinical careers. All the very best

  16. Hi Matthew, I really enjoyed reading the past questions section and browsing through your personal experience which is spellbinding. I graduated as anaesthesia technologist in 2017. I had worked and studied in a Cardiac centre for 1 year and 8 months. I obtained a PGDip in Cardiac Anaesthesia technology as well. However, i am not satisfied with my education yet. I still would like to do more and improve myself. I have been always interested in PA in anaesthesia and the University of Birmingham, the world-class institution. I would like to ask how was the PA program in general? what did you like about it the most? How was the training during your study? I wonder if the university provides clinical training, simulation sessions, direct contact with patients ,and clinical discussions? I appreciate your valuable time and guidance.

    Hi, your experience in a cardiac centre and your post-graduate qualification in cardiac anaesthesia technology will certainly be very helpful if you go on to study the UoB PA curriculum. The PA curriculum is a generalist curriculum that will prepare you to enter any common medical speciality. I personally very much enjoyed my PA studies but you should be aware that it is an intense and demanding programme. I enjoyed the problem-based learning sessions where students learn from one another and their respective experiences (you would surely be an asset to a PBL team). It is however worth noting that you will have a limited number of lectures and there is a significant emphasis on guided self-study. There are simulation sessions both at the university and on the clinical placements. Clinical discussions will take both on placement and as part of PBL and CBL cases. All the best with your future endeavours

  17. Hi Matthew, do you know how many contact hours there are in the first term of the PA PGDip please? I love a bit of self-study but would like a reassuring amount of taught content to know that I am on the right track with the theory part of the course. Thanks a lot.

    Hi, you can expect a challenging and engaging curriculum. You should note that problem-based and case-based learning forms the majority of the learning methodology and you should ensure that you are comfortable as a self-regulated learner and are comfortable working in groups as frontal lectures are not the main methodology for this programme.

  18. Hey! I am currently studying Biomedical science and it's my final year. I was currently looking for PA courses across the UK and I wanted to know more about the course in Birmingham. Also, I am an international student, so are there any criteria for only Home/Eu students applying for the course or is it open to all?

    Hi, regarding your first query, the UoB PA programme is one of the most established programmes in the UK and you can expect a challenging and engaging curriculum. You should note that problem-based and case-based learning forms the majority of the learning methodology and you should ensure that you are comfortable as a self-regulated learner and are comfortable working in groups as frontal lectures are not the main methodology for this programme. Regarding being an international student, it would be best to discuss this with the UoB PA admissions department.

  19. How competitive is it to get on to the PA course at UoB? What makes a strong application?

    UoB is a flagship university for the PA programme and as such it is a competitive entry process. You will need a relevant undergraduate degree to a good standard as well as healthcare experience to demonstrate that you are making an informed career decision. These two factors will be the most influential in your application.

  20. Hi, I just wanted to know what made you pick a PGDip over the MSc in Physician Associate Studies?

    Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    The PGDip Physician Associate Studies is what qualifies you to become a Physician's Associate - once you have this qualification you can take the MSc course which is a top-up and just consists of a research project to get up to the 180 credits required for a Masters.

    I hope this helps! PG Recruitment

  21. Hi Matthew, I hope you are well. I wanted to know how long would you say a typical day is in first semester pre placement, and how long are they during placements? Also where were you allocated your placement and is there a system which placements are allocated or can you choose?

    Hi, you should expect that both the university days and the clinical days will be full working days. Expect to be on placement or studying for a minimum of 8 hours. This is an intense programme where one should expect to study 50 hours per week so often you will exceed 8 hours of study time per day.

  22. Hi Matthew, I'm a Dental Hygienist/Therapist and have a Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Therapy and a BSc in Dental Studies (I'm not a dentist). I have over 20 years experience in this field but I am looking to change career whilst still remaining in the health sector. I have had a long term interest in medicine and would love to pursue a career as a PA. However, I'm concerned that my age will go against me, I'm 47? Also, do you feel my qualifications would meet the entry requirements? We were taught in depth anatomy and physiology, histology, pharmacology, immunology, embryology etc in addition to the dental studies so I feel confident in embarking on the course. Thank you.

    Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    The beauty of postgraduate study is that you can come back to it at any age, so I would try not to worry about your age going against you!

    With regards to your previous experience, unfortunately I don't have detailed knowledge of the course content, but as the mentor has not replied to you, I would advise that you make an enquiry to the relevant team. At the bottom of the course page ( there is an 'Email us' button. Submitting a question there will send it to someone on the team, who will hopefully be able to help!

    Best wishes, PG Recruitment

  23. Hi Matthew, I am currently studying my A- levels and wish to pursue a career in the NHS. I have only just learnt about the role of a physician's assistant and to my knowledge, understand that it is a fairly new role? I would just like to ask: What undergraduate courses may aid entry into this post graduate course? What is the employability rate of this job after graduating and do a lot of doctor's/ physician's have associates? Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    It's great to see you thinking so far ahead! Our entry requirements for Physician Associate Studies can be found here: - and you can see employability information on the employability tab at the top. I can't give much more specific information unfortunately as I don't know the course in detail, but you can email the PA team at if you want further clarification.

    I hope this helps, PG Recruitment

  24. Hey, hope you are doing well. I had a question regarding fees. Does Health Education provide you with some bursary or not? And also is £10000 the fee of one year or two years? One more question is if you have lived in accommodation, how much does that roughly cost?

    Hi there, this question is better directed to the University of Birmingham admissions team for the Physician Associate programme. This can be found via the university website. Best wishes

  25. Hi Matthew,

    I would like to hear your advice for my interest towards this course. I have always been interested in Medicine and serving patients. I did my Bachelors in Bioinformatics in 2008 and had to choose a corporate path due to personal circumstances. Now I am 35, consider me a mature student but I haven't yet lost interest even a bit towards Medicine. I would like to pursue an MSc in Physician Associates. My bachelors covered cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, genetics and I passed with a distinction however I am afraid it will be considered too old. What's your advice or guidance for someone like me with an old graduation and no clinical experience yet very passionate and determined to study and succeed as PA? I appreciate your valuable time and guidance.

    Hi, I completely understand your situation and with your background I imagine you would be a good fit for the PA programme. The single best thing you can do in my opinion to make an informed decision is to obtain experience shadowing PAs (and doctors). This will not only help guide your decision but will be very valuable when it comes to the admission process of your desired path.

  26. Hello there, I was just emailing to enquire about the subject of a physician associate, what it involves and whether or not it is a good career path to take? I would also like to know about the skills and knowledge required for the role. If possible I would like to know about your past experiences and how to progress successfully and what the best course to do is? Thank you for your time.

    Hello, thank you very much for your question. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    Unfortunately I don't have detailed knowledge of the course content or of employability prospects, but as the mentor has not replied to you, I would advise that you make an enquiry to the relevant team. At the bottom of the course page ( there is an 'email us' button. Submitting a question there will send it to someone on the team, who will hopefully be able to help!

    Best wishes, Emma

  27. I have completed a Bachelors of Pharmacy from India and I am interested in PA course which you are offering. I just want to know about the pre requisite and admission process. As I am a British Citizen so is their any exemptions from fees structure or any other requirements. Do I need any ilets scores? Do you have any other programmes which offer a dual degree including PA and Pharmacy together?


    We don't offer a joint programme unfortunately. The application process is detailed here:

    The only pre-requisites are the entry requirements. These are a 2:1 in a Life Sciences Degree so that our students can start the course with a good knowledge of biological processes, cell functions and cell interactions. This includes the Pharmacy degree you have. A 2:2 may be considered with considerable clinical experience.

    Unfortunately you would be required to meet the English Language requirements unless you have been resident in the UK permanently for the past three years. Our language requirements are detailed here:

    Best wishes, Tom

  28. Do you have anything lined up for once you have completed your degree?

    I was fortunate enough to be offered employment by the practice where I carried out my clinical based medicine and elective placements. This meant that towards the end of my studies, I was able to focus on my national exams and not have to worry about the additional burden of applying for jobs. This was a real bonus for me and I worked at this surgery for two years post-qualification.

  29. How will your degree prepare you for what you want to do afterwards?

    This course has confirmed a life-long ambition to study medicine. It has enabled me to work in a career whereby I am in the privileged position of being able to make a positive difference to people’s lives, but also to help them in their moment of need. There is not much more in the way of job satisfaction than what you can achieve as a clinician.

  30. What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

    Top of my list has to be the people that I have met: classmates and tutors. My classmates come from a diverse array of scientific, clinical and cultural backgrounds and we have all learnt so much from one another, which is the fundamental basis of our group work. I have also met tutors with impressive accolades, and careers to which I aspire to be able to compare mine one day. It's also a special feeling walking into the Medical School every day and I have really enjoyed the challenge of the programme.

  31. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    My motivation for postgraduate study was a combination of two reasons. Firstly, I have always had a desire to study medicine and this course enabled me to do this in an intense two-year programme. Equally important perhaps, I felt that the personal development of postgraduate study would help me to grow as an individual. I also hoped to expand my social network by meeting like-minded individuals. This was certainly the case. I was surrounded by people who loved what they were studying, which really helps to motivate one another day to day.

  32. Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

    The University of Birmingham is a world-class institution. Growing up in the local area, I always hoped to study at UoB one day. During my undergraduate degree I had begun to believe that this might not come to fruition, but my acceptance onto this postgraduate course has made this dream come true. The history behind one of the few redbrick universities was a key attraction, as was the relationship with the Russell Group, which funds some truly exciting research in the medical and scientific community.

  33. What would you like to do or specialize in once you graduate?

    After graduation, I started working in primary care as I felt strongly that I wanted to deepen my medical knowledge and set a broad platform for any future specialities that I may wish to pursue. Having worked in primary care for more than three years, I have now moved to working in medical education to help train the next generation of doctors and PAs.

  34. Can you give me some information on what to expect at interview and how best to prepare?

    Without revealing any specific information about the interview, I would say that it is important to be well read and ideally have first-hand experience of shadowing or working with a PA. I advise that you are up to date with current medical issues in the media and areas of ongoing medical research. Further to this, it is important to know in your own mind what the PA programme and what life as a PA will entail (and be able to demonstrate that you have put a lot of thought into this). It is also worth considering medical ethical scenarios.

  35. Do you get any days off on the course?

    Hi, the course is very intense and runs for a little over two years. Some of your weekends can be kept free if you really optimise your self-study during the week and work late after placement. Remember that this course is designed to train you as a medic within just 2 years and therefore holiday's are much shorter than other medical courses and often involve revision or coursework. I hope this answers your question.

  36. Hello, I am an undergraduate student currently pursuing a Life Sciences degree (BSc Zoology in India). I could really use your help with deciding if a Masters in Physicians Associate Studies is the right thing for me, keeping in mind my interests and aspirations? Hope to hear from you soon.

    Hi, it is nice to hear that you are keen in becoming a PA. Please keep in mind that training to be a PA from a UK accredited course will only entitle you to work in the UK as a PA. Best wishes.

  37. Would you recommend the Physicians Associate course to someone who originally had wanted to do Medicine? Do you think it is as fulfilling a job as a doctor?

    Hi there,

    I am in my third year of being a PA and I really enjoy my role in General Practice, which is where I have worked since qualifying.

    It is important to understand that a PA works under the supervision of senior doctors and therefore if you work in a hospital setting you will always have limited opportunity to manage patients your own way. In General Practice, you often have more autonomy, especially once you are senior and confident in the role. Ultimately though, you are technically still working under supervision, although this supervision is often dependent on the PA to seek help or advice as required, especially in a primary care setting.

    I strongly recommend you undertake some work experience with a PA as this is the best way to find out if the role is for you. Best wishes.

  38. Hi, does the university have a placement? Is it easy to find a job after finishing the course?

    Hi, there are lots of placements throughout the course and it forms a key part of the student competencies and learning hours. Placements can be local or further afield and flexibility is required on the side of the student. The PA job market is currently booming and I have never had any issues with finding work! Best wishes,