Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

International growth of the PA profession

01 September 2016
Professor Paul O'Neill


The Physician Associate (PA) profession has grown rapidly internationally and the PA model has been adopted in 20 countries including the US, Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia, New Zealand – and Ireland.


Professor Paul O'Neill, Medical Director of the RCSI PA Studies programme provides an overview: "The PA role was introduced in the US over 50 years ago. There are now more than 110,000 American PAs employed across a wide range of healthcare settings.In the UK, the first PA studies programme was introduced in 2008, with an intake of just 43 students across three schools. Today there are 15 PA studies programmes and almost 300 qualified PAs.

"Judging from the experience of the UK's NHS, it is predicted that demand for qualified PAs will quickly grow as clinicians and the public appreciate the unique and vital contributions PAs make to patient care. As part of a pilot project, Beaumont Hospital has employed four international PAs and it is expected that the profession will grow rapidly here in Ireland as it has done overseas."