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03 Oct 2022

Ireland's first Physician Associate in Psychiatry post established in Laois

Ireland's first Physician Associate in Psychiatry post established in Laois

Sophie Freeman has taken up the post of PA in Psychiatry in Portlaoise

Ireland’s first Physician Associate in Psychiatry post has been established at Laois Offaly Mental Health Services in Portlaoise. 

The post, which was created through a collaboration between the HSE and the RCSI,  led to the hiring of Sophie Freeman as Ireland’s first Physician Associate in Psychiatry. Sophie took up her post with Laois Offaly Mental Health Services in Portlaoise in July of this year. 

The PA in Psychiatry is a very welcome new role that should assist greatly in reducing waiting times for patients seeking assessment and support from the mental health service.

Service users in Portlaoise are already seeing the many improvements that Sophie has brought to the service and there are hopes that further Physician Associate posts can be created within Laois Offaly Mental Health Services in the coming years.

Physician Associates (PAs) are highly trained and skilled healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors, nurses and other disciplines in delivering care to patients in all clinical settings, including medical, surgical, general practice and psychiatry contexts. 

While the central role of the Physician Associate in healthcare services has been well established in the US and the UK over many years, Physician Associates are a relatively recent but very welcome addition to services in Ireland.

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The Masters in Physician Associate Studies was launched by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in 2015 and healthcare services all over Ireland are already seeing the many benefits of employing the highly motivated, skilled and dedicated Physician Associate graduates. RCSI are also launching a remote/hybrid pilot programme in 2023 which will allow students to train as Physician Associates in their own communities without relocating to Dublin, an advantage to both the students and the associated regional hospitals alike. 

Between public, private and general practice settings, there are now approximately 50 Physician Associate graduates from the RCSI employed throughout Ireland, with some students coming from abroad to avail of the high quality teaching and training at the RCSI.

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