New healthcare professionals join St Mary’s Hospital

St Mary’s Hospital has welcomed 11 new student Physician Associates whilst Covid-19 has forced universities to close.

The 11 students are from Portsmouth, Cambridge, Brighton and Sussex universities and have joined St Mary’s to support doctors in diagnosing and managing hospital patients.

Physician associates are trained to perform examinations on patients, take medical histories, analyse test results and diagnose illnesses under direct supervision of a doctor.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust has stated it ‘is advanced in its approach to developing its workforce’, with the welcoming of the medical students being testament to that pledge.  

Alistair Flowerdew, Isle of Wight NHS Trust Medical Director, said:

“Physician Associates bring new talent to the NHS and I am delighted to welcome all 11 students who have chosen to come and work at St. Mary’s Hospital.

“Physician Associates not only increase the capacity of our medical workforce but also increase access to quality care for our patients. They are a real asset to the team and I hope they thoroughly enjoy their time working with us.”

According to the trust, on qualifications Physician Associates must hold, state:

‘In the UK, Physician Associates must complete a full-time post graduate diploma and must already have a degree in a life or healthcare science and experience of working in the health service.’

‘The students are required to complete theory and practice based clinical training across a range of specialities which include community and general medicine, mental health, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and paediatric services.’

Dr Mark Pugh, Consultant Rheumatologist at St. Mary’s Hospital said:

“Physician Associates are a relatively new type of clinician for the NHS, but have been contributing to U.S. healthcare for about 70 years.

“Working with doctors to a medical model of health they can really increase the quality of care we offer to our patients on the Island.

“I am so proud of the way the students, some of whom I teach through my link with Portsmouth University, have thrown themselves in their role with enthusiasm, good humour and increasing skill.

“We need more Physician Associates working on the Island in primary and secondary care.”

Dr Donna Dalgetty, Course Leader MSc Physician Associate Studies at University of Portsmouth is working on the wards with the students. Dr Dalgetty, said:

“I am immensely proud of our students for joining us on the frontline here at St. Mary’s during this challenging time.

“They have proved to be a welcome addition to the medical teams. I am also very grateful to all at the Trust for their warmth and support for this new role, especially our foundation doctors who have been offering bespoke teaching to the students in their lunch breaks.”

Speaking of their experience so far, Physician Associate student, Megan, said:

“I have felt really welcomed and supported since coming here and I am learning a lot from the junior doctors too.”

Haji said:

“I was worried that I wouldn’t know anything but I really wanted to help patients and colleagues with the pandemic.”

Peter said:

“Getting used to the PPE whilst caring for Covid-19 patients has been scary at times but everyone is supportive and ensuring that we are always safe and get plenty of breaks.”

Dr Victor Lawrence, Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Diabetes Mellitus has been working with the students as they treat patients who have Covid-19 as well as those with other emergency medical conditions.

Dr Lawrence, said:

“They are brilliant and it has been such a privilege to work with the team we currently have.”