MSc Physician Associate Studies

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Physician Associate - Quality and Evidence

Unit code MEDN60030
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Division of Medical Education
Available as a free choice unit? No


Activities in this unit aim to build on clinical education elements of the programme by developing the student Physician Associate as a scientist and scholar. This unit runs throughout the academic year and equips students with the knowledge and skills required to participate in scholarly activities, quality/service improvement work and to understand the evidence base for a range of activities in the clinical environment.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Physician Associate Yr1 MEDN60010 Co-Requisite Compulsory


The first (university based) part of the unit is delivered in Semester Two and consists of lectures and seminars that deliver training in the fundamentals of evidence based medicine, including:
  • Familiarity with the five key steps of evidence-based practice.
  • Literature searching and the use of a ‘PICO’ strategy to formulate questions.
  • Understanding different research designs and relating them to strength of clinical evidence.
  • Demonstrating effective search for clinically-relevant evidence.
  • Being able to critically appraise evidence presented in the extant literature.
  • Outlining how evidence is applied to clinical practice.
  • Applying basic statistical techniques relevant to clinical research.
  • Identification, conceptualisation and exposition of unsolved problems.
  • Formulation of research questions and development of research proposals.
Students are also expected to participate in scholarly activities whilst on placement including contributing to audit and service improvement/evaluation work that is on-going within the medical team. They will log and reflect upon scholarly activities (for example attendance at journal clubs, research presentations and formal talks) in an online Research and Scholarship portfolio that acts to counterbalance and supplement their Personal and Professional Development Portfolio. Students will also develop knowledge of clinical governance and medical ethics and how these fit into modern regularity frameworks.
Students will learn how to develop research questions and will record their achievements in a reflective portfolio. By the end of placement C (MEDN60010) they will prepare a literature review and research proposal that will form the basis of work undertaken in MEDN60040 (concurrently with MEDN60020) during the second year of study.


Teaching and learning methods

The unit offers a flexible approach to T&L processes depending on the experience of each student. Scientific writing, evidence based medicine and basic research methods training are provided through a blended approach combining contact time in lectures, discussion groups and seminars with online learning and independent study. \Students are also required to engage with opportunities on placement, including journal clubs
Students are encouraged to attend relevant seminars, attend guest talks at university an on placement. They will receive support with academic and their Academic Advisor, Placement Supervisor and the Academic Lead for Assessment (as appropriate).

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe the underlying principles of scientific methodology as applied in the context of clinical
  • research and the importance of an evidenced approach to clinical medicine.
  • Describe how research informs clinical decision making and how national and international guidance is derived
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different research designs and be able to relate them to strength of clinical evidence obtained from clinical studies.
  • Describe the EU and UK regulatory frameworks for approval of pharmaceutical products and medical devices, including GCP requirements for research conducted in patient populations.
  • Develop detailed knowledge of ethical and legal issues relevant to the practice of medicine, research and clinical audit work.
  • Show an awareness of The organisation, management and provision of healthcare in the community and in hospital including the economic and practical constraints within which it is delivered, and the clinical governance processes through which the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of delivery of care and patient focussed research is monitored
  • Report on the current status of research in a chosen area
  • Pose a problem, framing it in a fashion that is amenable to solution

Intellectual skills

  • Develop an understanding of research design and methodology
  • Describe the core principles in the evaluation of data derived from clinical research (interpret univariate statistical methods, for example, general linear models, correlation analysis, survival statistics and simple multivatiate methods)
  • Demonstrate the ability to recognise and cope with uncertainty using appropriate cognitive strategies
  • Demonstrate critical thinking capacity, including abstraction, analysis and critical judgement
  • Reflect upon and evaluate research findings
  • Synthesise and analyse data and information
  • Engage in constructive dialogue with peers and be able to appraise complex ethical scenarios.

Practical skills

  • Develop knowledge and practical skills that can be applied in the use of experimental techniques/protocols relevant to the project.
  • Develop skills in producing a literature review
  • Develop written and debating skills.
  • Manage patient records (to include making accurate and legible entries) for the delivery of healthcare and for research/audit purposes

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate independent thought
  • Develop self-management skills (e.g. time management, prioritisation of tasks)
  • Act as autonomous learners practising reflection, lifelong learning and willingness to participate in peer review processes
  • Communicate ideas and data both orally and in written form using reference management software.
  • Demonstrate critical appraisal, statistical analysis and literature review skills
  • Plan time effectively, apportioning appropriate energy to literature research and writing while undertaking other essential course activities
  • Meet agreed informal and formal deadlines for writing assignments

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Portfolio 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback provided electronically:
  • The research proposal and report/review will receive a mark and formal comments
  • Reflective portfolio entries will receive a mark with comments and/or qualitative feedback as appropriate.

Recommended reading

Students will be exposed to a range of relevant clinical specialties. The bulk of reading will be drawn from the primary literature and therefore it is difficult to produce an indicative reading list. We will refer students to relevant texts for their studies.
The following texts are useful in preparation:
  • Lynch J. & Nachimuthu S. Clinical Responsibility (Medico-Legal Essentials). CRC Press, London
  • Field A.,(2013) Discovering Statistics for SPSS. Sage, London.
  • Good Clinical Practice Reference Guide (2018). National Institute for Health Research.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 5
Tutorials 5
Work based learning 75
Independent study hours
Independent study 215

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Drew Tarmey Unit coordinator

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