Celebrating our Physician Associates - Liam Black

To mark Physician Associate Week from 3 to 7 October we're showcasing a few of our brilliant PAs in their own words! Here's Liam Black on how he became a PA and what he finds so rewarding about his choice of career.

Hi, My name’s Liam, I’m a Physician Associate for the Learning Disabilities service in Sheffield.

I’ve always had an interest in medicine from being young and I was influenced by my nan who was a nurse many years ago. I initially studied biology at GCSE and then again at A-Level. During my time in college I gained work experience in various areas of my local hospital where I was able to shadow various clinicians and learn about their roles.

I then went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science and I also worked as a Healthcare Assistant across various medical specialities.

The knowledge I gained from my degree and the experience I had gained from my HCA role enabled me to apply for a postgraduate course in Physician Associate studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

After completing my studies I qualified as a Physician Associate and I now work in the Learning Disabilities Service in Sheffield.

A typical day for me begins with a good cup of coffee. This is closely followed by saying “hi” to my work colleagues before switching on my laptop to prepare for my morning clinic. During my clinic I will review a variety of patients with often complex presentations. The part of my job that I most enjoy is working with patients, families, and the multidisciplinary team to improve the health and quality of life for our service users.

As with any job there are always various challenges to overcome. One of the first challenges for me was to raise awareness around what a Physician Associate is and what I could bring to the team. I found that the best way to approach this was to meet the team, discover what was already happening in the service, and then work with my clinical supervisor to identify how my knowledge and skills could be used to meet the service’s needs.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for me and it’s one of the many reasons I applied to work as a Physician Associate. I am able to enjoy my weekends exploring the Peak District or one of the many beer gardens Sheffield has to offer. By ensuring I take time for myself to do things that I enjoy I’m able to come to work refreshed, motivated and ready to deliver the high-quality care that my patients deserve.

I highly recommend a career as a Physician Associate. If you are considering this as a career then I would advise to seek clinical work experience before applying and to be proactive with visiting and speaking to prospective universities about their courses.