PA Training in the United Kingdom

The PA training model in the United Kingdom is extremely unique in that it uses problem based learning (PBL) and early clinical exposure. First year students learn their clinical skills by examining trained actors, who present with a variety of symptoms.

This gives students the advantage of practicing their clinical and history taking skills on a real person without putting a patient at risk. They also learn how to develop the skill of determining what is clinically important when patients offer a barrage of symptoms.  

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Students soon progress to seeing real patients, once they have graduated from the trained actor exercise. PBL is an educational tool that develops independent learning and critical thinking and is the mainstay of non-physician practitioner educational models used in the Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Students work in groups of eight to 10 to evaluate a case and identify learning needs related to the case. The use of PBL and the early clinical exposure were very effective in training his colleagues to be independent learners and highly skilled clinicians, Apperly said.