Career - Physician Associate Faith Testimony Corner

How the Physician Associate life found me.

The journey to get to where I am right now has not been a smooth one. But no journey is ever smooth is it? I think the question we all ask ourselves sometimes when embarking on a career journey is:

“how do I know if this is the profession for me?”

How do I know if I’am actually called to do this? For me, it was finding out through a lot of prayer, tears and and conversations with people who were much wiser than I am. But even (still now) I have my moments of uncertainty. Those moments do come and go however the matter of “calling” has always had a different meaning for me. But essentially – this is how I got to where I am.

It all started during my nursing undergrad. For those who don’t know, my undergraduate degree was in Adult Nursing. This is a three year degree. And how I ended up here was not due to the fact that I had an unwavering passionate desire to be a nurse unfortunately – but rather as a back-up plan to not getting into medicine. My plans to get into medicine absolutely flopped my first year of A-Levels, so I thought, “meh, why not do nursing – it’s still in healthcare and I guess it’s close enough.” It wasn’t a very thorough decision making process but that was what my mind was like at the time. Fast forward to A-level results day and I legitimately did not get into ANY of my uni choices. I was devastated and completely felt like my world was falling apart, (anyone who had to go through clearing I’m sure can relate). But through clearing I was able to get into one of the best universities for nursing.

I had no idea what I was in for when I started nursing. I didn’t grow up desiring to be a nurse, this is something I came up with abruptly after being lumped with the reality that medicine was not going to happen to me. But side note: I’m happy med school didn’t work out for me because being on nursing placements and seeing the reality of a doctor’s job day in day out; I quickly came to the conclusion that, that wasn’t where I was SPECIFICALLY made to be, and I became quickly okay with it. 

My very first placement of nursing school, (and this placement I will never forget) I was thrust into a busy and understaffed respiratory ward in a hospital two hours from home. As a first year nursing student, I was SHOOK to the core.

literally me my first placement of first year

I was so thrown into the deep end with no mentor for the first two weeks of my placement. Nonetheless I adapted and quickly became part of the team and actually worked with some really funny people and experienced many interesting things. It was this placement where I found out about the Physician Associate (PA) role. 

For those who don’t know, although the PA role has been around a while, it’s come really to fruition in the UK in the last couple years or so. 

Essentially it’s a role in which we practice medicine as part of a multidisciplinary team or in a GP practice to support in diagnosing, treating and managing patients. 

The differentiation between a PA and a doctor is that essentially we work under supervision of a consulting doctor but with time & experience most PAs are able to work autonomously. But a PA doesn’t have the say all to end all. As PAs we are trained very broadly across a wide variety of specialities in order to to grasp the concept of being able recognise and manage core conditions. 

Physician associates are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals, who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. Physician associates are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated medical supervisor, but are able to work autonomously with appropriate support.   


Now – this is my testimony. 

It was one rainy Wednesday during my first year nursing placement – and I had turned up for my 12 hour shift. Suddenly, my mentor came up to me and elucidated me to the fact that I was in fact not meant to be here.

me turning up on the wrong day

Considering how the ward was 90% of the time understaffed, my mentor asked me if i would consider staying and I could swap with another day and since I had trekked two hours in, i thought, “why not, i might as well stay.” Along the course of the day I bumped into an agency nurse; we get to talking and she asks me if I’ve ever thought about being a Physician Associate. I said a what associate???? We got to talking; she revealed to me about the role and she believed that – and i quote – “she could see I was meant to be in that role.” Sounds like such an enlightenment moment doesn’t it.

I never saw her again, but that lady put me on that path to becoming a PA. It wasn’t a straight forward journey at all – I battled with a lot of indecisiveness and feelings of unworthiness. But I always thought about the “why.” I think to love your career, there always has has to be a “why.” As a Christian, the question I always battled with was, “is this the will of God for me?” But I soon came to grasp the concept that my career wasn’t necessarily His “will” but rather how I carried myself as a Christian and succumbed to what God required of me. But I digress.

How did I eventually come to know that the Physician Associate role was for me? Well I don’t have a clear cut answer – it’s a bit of a cop out some might say –  but I just felt at peace about it; it was just a perfect fit. I had been so indecisive about my career from the moment I accepted I’d flopped with medicine; even though I knew I couldn’t be anywhere else but in the healthcare field. My “why” was truly to be a part of changed lives through the channel of healthcare. I truly have a passion for seeing + being a part of people be healed in restorative ways – physically, emotionally and holistically. Figuring out what is wrong with the patient and working with the patient together on a journey to healing. 

I believe my God is at work everywhere – but I see little miracles all the time in healthcare. The kind no one thinks to talk loads about. The woman healed from cancer, the teenage boy on the road to being healed from anxiety, the elderly lady who smiles just because she is able to have a conversation with you because she’s been lonely ever since her husband passed away. These moments for me exhibit the restorative power of Christ. You may or may not agree with me; but this is what drew me to healthcare and the PA role is the means by which I can partake in those miracles.

In the future I’ll be writing more on all things healthcare, physician associate related. As well as this, I’ll be writing about what it means to be a Christian or a person of faith in the 21st century today in the world of healthcare.

I hope you found this an interesting read!

God bless

Rochelle x

5 replies on “How the Physician Associate life found me.”

May the Lord lead you through and through.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8(Niv)

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