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First 'Physician Associate' appointed at Royal Stoke University Hospital

Stroke patients are benefitting from the appointment of Royal Stoke’s first 'Physician Associate'. Rachel Gunston (pictured) trained on the stroke unit and will now be staying on to help care for patients within the specialty. The role is relatively new within the NHS and involves taking medical histories, performing physical examinations, diagnosing illnesses, performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and analysing test results.

Dr Indira Natarajan, Clinical Director for Neurosciences, said: “Physician Associates are a real asset because they essentially provide a midway point between the medical team and the nursing team. This is beneficial for patients because it ensures a high quality, balanced level of care. They are also highly skilled and have to complete a lot of training, so as a trust we really benefit from their advanced clinical skills and expertise.

“Rachel was very enthusiastic and really hit the ground running. She has become a valued member of the team on the unit, but has also worked over and above her normal duties throughout the pandemic, caring for patients on our Covid wards.”

Rachel had to complete more than 1,600 hours of clinical training across a range of specialties before she could achieve her qualification. Having completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Physician Associate Studies, she officially began working on the stroke unit at Royal Stoke.

Rachel said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the stroke ward and feel very honored to have been given this opportunity as the first Physician Associate in a very supportive specialty. I am looking forward to developing my career at UHNM.”