Professor Jim Parle MBChB DRCOG FRCGP MD

Professor Jim Parle

Institute of Clinical Sciences
Professor of Primary Care & Assistant in General Practice

Contact details

Primary Care Clinical Sciences
Institute of Clinical Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Jim Parle is Professor of Primary Care and is Course director for the Physician Assistant PGDip programme. 

Jim entered General Practice in 1982 and was Senior Partner from 1983 to 2000, continuing part-time General Practice alongside academia since then.  Jim’s main activity in his 20 years as an academic has been in education, leading on the introduction of a major community based teaching strand within the MBChB course; championing the place of non-biosciences such as ethics and law and behavioural science in the medical curriculum; establishing the PA PGDip; and leading innovative educational approaches such as using lay women to teach medical students how to perform female pelvic examinations. His research interests have been predominantly in thyroid epidemiology and in education. He has received grants from, among others, the RCGP, PPP (now the Health Foundation) and the NIHR.

He is well known in the fields of thyroid epidemiology and, in education, particularly in the development of innovative approaches to learning clinical skills. He has spoken at numerous conferences on these issues (e.g. quinquennial thyroid conference, Buenos Aires, Ottawa conference on assessment, Toronto).


Professor of Primary Care

  • MD 1999 Birmingham: Thyroid dysfunction in the elderly in the community: An investigation into prevalence, incidence, associated and prognostic features and natural history of thyroid dysfunction in elderly patients in the UK community and consideration of the arguments for screening.
  • FRCGP 1994
  • MRCGP 1982
  • DRCOG 1981
  • MBChB 1978 Birmingham


Born in Dublin in 1954, the family moved to Nottingham in 1957 and then to Liverpool in 1965. Jim attended UoB Medical School for six years (having done the ‘wrong’ O-levels) and qualified in 1978. After house-jobs in Selly Oak and Stratford he did a 3-year vocational training scheme in Stafford and joined a run-down practice in Bartley Green in 1982, taking over in 1983. Since that time the practice has expanded from 4000 to 6500 patients, now has 5 partners and numerous staff, and is widely regarded as one of the foremost GP practices in Birmingham. Jim began his thyroid research career in 1988 and joined the Department of Primary Care in 1992, gaining a chair in Primary Care in 1999. Subsequently Jim has led the development of community based experience for medical students, initiated (with Dr Sheila Greenfield) the innovative and successful intercalated degree in non-bioscience subjects, led the development of various types of simulation as enjoyable and effective learning methodologies for clinical skills and set up one of the first, and by most measures the most successful, postgraduate diploma in Physician Assistant studies in the UK. He also chairs the UK and Ireland Board for PA Studies. He has been on the Steering Committee for the Biennial International Clinical Skills Conference series held in Tuscany, and now Chairs the Scientific Committee for that conference.

More recently (2012) he temporarily took over leadership of the highly successful cancer research team within primary care.


Postgraduate supervision

Jim is willing to supervise postgraduate or intercalated degree theses in thyroid epidemiology or medical education, particularly skill acquisitions, or in new ways of working in the NHS.


Jim has spent most of the past 20 years in academia focussed on educational development and innovation. 

Most recently research has been predominantly in education, for example Physician Assistant education, medical student exam performance, and clinical skills. However, he has also led the largest community based study of thyroid dysfunction in the UK, and published on prevalence, the association between mild thyroid dysfunction and atrial fibrillation, the correlation between thyroid dysfunction and cognitive function and (most recently) has published the largest RCT of treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism in the literature.

He has current grants with the NIHR (an RCT of acquisition of musculoskeletal examination skills by medical students); with HIEC (especially focussed on simulation, including haptics) and is the local GP lead for a major 7-year long RCT of screening for osteoporosis in older women; unfunded research is ongoing on OSCE examinations (focussing on practical issues such as how many stations are truly necessary to make a sufficiently reliable decision), on the impact of using Gynaecology Teaching Associates on attitudes among ethnic minority students to performing female pelvic examinations, on the feasibility of development of a global core biomedicine assessment for Physician Assistants and on long-term mortality in older people with mild thyroid dysfunction.Currently in development are projects on ethnicity and osteoporosis, on haptics and CKD, on haptics and male rectal examination skills, on the impact of Physician Assistants on workflow and safety, on modelling ED workforce changes and rosters, on identifying immune deficiency by interrogating routine GP databases, and on the correlation between suicide rates and quality in primary care.


Draper H, Ives J, Ross N, Parle J. Medical education and patients’ responsibilities: back to the future? Journal of Medical Ethics, (2008), 34: 116-119.

Ross Nick, Parle Jim. Physician assistants, a UK perspective on clinical need, education and regulation. Clinical Teacher, (2008); 5:1-4.

Philip A. P. Begg, MBA, MSc, RHAD; Nick M. Ross, BA (Arch), RGN, DipN; (Lond), Cert. Ed, MA; Jim V. Parle, MBChB, FRCGP, MD. Physician Assistant Education in the United Kingdom: The First Five Years. Journal of PA Education, (2008); 19 (3):

Melanie J Calvert, Nick M Ross, Nick Freemantle, Yong Xu, Remigio Zvauya, Jim V Parle. Examination performance of graduate entry medical students compared to mainstream students. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, (2009); 102: 425-430.

J Parle, L Roberts, S Wilson, H Pattison, A Roalfe, M S Haque, C Heath, M Sheppard, J Franklyn, FDR Hobbs. A Randomized Controlled Trial of the effect of thyroxine replacement on cognitive function in community-living elderly subjects with sub-clinical hypothyroidism: the Birmingham Elderly Thyroid Study. J. Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, (2010) 95: 3623-3632; doi:10.1210/jc.2009-2571.

Boelaert K, Parle J, Franklyn J. Thyroid disease in: The impact of hormones on general practice. Nuffield Press Ltd. 2010ISBN 978-0-9560921-6-8

Parle J, Jones J. Old drugs, new tricks: and a new name. BMJ Rapid Response (letter); (2011);

Parle J, Ross N, Jones J. Beneficial drug reactions: it is time to move from serendipity to systematic searching. BMJ (2012);344:d8337 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d8337