Next step on road to regulation as new education standards for future PAs and AAs published

New standards outlining what’s expected from course providers and students learning to become physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) have been published today, as the General Medical Council (GMC) continues preparations for becoming the regulator for both professions.In 2019, the Department of Health and Social Care, with the support of the four UK Governments, announced AAs and PAs would be regulated by the GMC, to reinforce their growing role in the multi-disciplinary healthcare workforce. Regulation is currently expected to begin no earlier than the second half of 2024.

It will mean anyone practising as a PA or AA must be registered with the GMC and will be subject to its relevant regulatory requirements. Their education must meet certain standards to maintain the trust placed in both professions.

The publication of the new standards marks another key milestone on the road to regulation.

Included is a core set of expectations course providers must ensure students can satisfy, known as the PA and AA generic and shared learning outcomes. It outlines what PAs and AAs must know by the time they graduate and begin work. 

It also offers a basis which course providers can use to develop their programmes of learning, a blueprint for assessments, and specifies how providers will be quality assured to make sure they are meeting standards.

"This is another significant step forward in establishing both PAs and AAs as regulated professions, and in developing a multi-disciplinary healthcare workforce fit for the future. "

Clare Barton

GMC Assistant Director of Medical Associate Professions

Mirroring what the GMC provides for medical students, an interim version of Achieving good medical practice for student PAs and AAs sets the standards of behaviour expected in the classroom and on placements.

The new guidance emphasises the trust placed in the professions, and their regular contact with patients and members of the public. Understanding how it applies to them in learning will help students in their future careers.

Also included are two new resources for the physician associate profession (equivalents for AAs will follow).

  • An outline of what will be covered in the exam newly qualified PAs will need to pass to become a registered professional. 
  • Guidance for course providers and educators on managing professionalism and fitness to practise concerns.

All documents will be provided to course providers and educators, who will be encouraged to share them with students.

The GMC’s publication coincides with new curricula for PAs, published by the Faculty of Physician Associates and for AAs by the Royal College of Anaesthetists.

Clare Barton, the GMC’s Assistant Director of Medical Associate Professions, said:

‘Both professions are increasingly recognised and valued for the huge contributions they make to multi-disciplinary teams, and towards the delivery of timely, safe and high-quality care for patients. These new resources set the standards expected both inside and outside of the classroom, and on placement, for educators and for students.

‘This is another significant step forward in establishing both PAs and AAs as regulated professions, and in developing a multi-disciplinary healthcare workforce fit for the future. We’re proud to have been selected as the future regulator and look forward to the start of regulation.’