Across the two years you will experience a wide variety of clinical placements across both community and hospital-based medicine. These placements are aligned to the expectations in the Faculty of Physician Associates Competence and Curriculum Framework, which lays out requirements in community based medicine; general medicine; front door medicine; surgery; obstetrics and gynaecology; paediatrics and mental health.

What are placements?

Placements involve a diverse range of tasks designed to facilitate your learning and understanding of both clinical medicine and the PA role. In hospital, depending on the setting, you may be examining patients and taking histories; participating in ward rounds, sitting in on consultant-led clinics, observing in operating theatres or many other things besides.

GP practices will lead you through your early placement experiences using tutorials and sitting in with GPs and the wider team, right through to seeing your own patients in year two. You are responsible for your own learning during clinical placements. You are required to meet specific objectives as well as to complete assignments such as gathering case histories which will then feed back into your university-based teaching.

The placement site will, however, support you to do this with named clinical supervisors, and access to resources whilst you are on placement. The team based at UoB will also support you through this exciting time.

To allocate students to placements, we ask students to submit a form detailing any special placement requests. These are considered by the placement team, who will then determine any ‘Priority’ requests based on the reasons given. The placement team try to take as many factors as possible into consideration when allocating placements. We understand the pressures of being a PA student (both of us are PAs and have been PA students on placements) however the final say for location does rest with the placement team.

Birmingham Medical School currently has arrangements in place for placements at a number of providers including:

  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Birmingham Women’s and Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust
  • George Eliot NHS Trust
  • Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Approximately 15 GP practices

Frequently asked questions

When do placements start?

Community Based Medicine placements start in month two of year one and continue throughout the entire programme. You will be placed within a hospital Trust in term 2, and will complete a total of ten distinct placements over the twenty-five months.

Can I change a placement?

You are not normally allowed to change or swap placements with another student.

Special provision is made for students who have special circumstances and are unable to travel to all the hospitals used for clinical placements. The College acknowledges that in some cases students may need to have particular placements due to personal circumstance or to change their placement due to illness or unforeseen circumstances.

The mechanism for letting the programme know is explained during the first week of term.

Please note: although the programme will try and accommodate those with exceptional circumstances, the programme is unable to guarantee any specific placement request

What hours will I work?

Physician Associate Studies Diploma is a full-time course and you are expected to attend every day. As part of the Physician Associate Competence and Curriculum Framework students are required to complete a minimum set number of 1600 clinical hours: During placement you may be required to be at placement at 8.00am-8.30am dependent upon the teaching that has been organised and you are expected to be at placement on average 8 hours each day (not including lunchtime). In the later years of the course you will be required to work a late shift or cover an evening, night or weekend shift.

How will I get to my placements?

Most of the placements, both hospital and GP, are easily accessible by public transport (bus and train) or by car. Students quite often car share. The University also benefits from its own train station on Birmingham's Cross-City Line with regular trains running to Birmingham New Street, for onward connections, every 10 minutes at peak times.

What should I expect from my placements?

We are committed to delivering the Physician Associate curriculum in line with learning outcomes and standards for Physician Associate education as defined by the Competence and Curriculum Framework for the Physician Associate (formally Assistant). Much of the placement time is experiential learning where students learn about healthcare from direct interactions with patients in inpatient, outpatient and community-based settings