August 12th, 2016

Taking a Leap … Across the Pond

Megan Tetlow, PA-C

Megan Tetlow, PA-C, practices gynecologic oncology in Sheffield, England, as part of the National Physician Associate Expansion Program. She is from Fort Myers, Florida, and will be a guest blogger for In Practice in the coming year.

“Couch” not exam table, “theatre” not operating room, “obs” not vital signs: my first 2 weeks as a physician assistant practicing in England as part of the National Physician Associate Expansion Programme (NPAEP) have been exhilarating, enlightening, and more than a little disorienting. While I haven’t been in the UK long enough to speak with authority on the differences between our two healthcare systems, I have had a little time to reflect on the events that led a girl from sunny south Florida across an ocean to the heart of Yorkshire, England.

I first heard about the NPAEP last year on a Facebook post shared by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. It fortunately came at a time when I had been thinking a lot about what I wanted out of life, figuring out how to achieve it, and then just going for it. What I wanted was adventure … while continuing to work as a PA. The difficulty was that while the physician assistant model continues to expand, it remains a largely American profession. There are some opportunities for American PAs to practice internationally, but I found myself more limited as a PA that has always practiced in a specialty, specifically in gynecologic oncology.

jumpers-200134172-002Meanwhile, across the Big Pond, Dr. Nick Jenkins and the UK National Health Service (NHS) had developed a program to expand the role of physician assistants (here called physician associates) in England. The aim was to bring a group of American PAs to England for 2 years and place them in regions where there is a lack of practicing physician associates, in an effort to demonstrate to patients and providers alike the benefits that PAs could bring to the health system. The program wanted to recruit across different areas of medicine to demonstrate the breadth of midlevel provider abilities. As a result, and luckily for yours truly, they were recruiting among both generalist and specialty care providers.

I felt like I had stumbled upon my big chance. This was a rare opportunity to be able to live and work in another country, while continuing to work as a physician assistant. As an added bonus, and even beyond my original goals, I would be able to help foster the PA profession on a global scale and serve as a diplomat for a profession that I care so deeply about.

After applying and interviewing, to my surprise and delight, I was accepted into the program. Additionally, to my even greater delight, I found that I was to be placed with a physician group within my same subspecialty of gynecologic oncology. I knew it was just where I was supposed to be.

The time between then and our move in June has been a flurry of paperwork, visas, fingerprinting (four different times!), selling our worldly possessions, buying one-way plane tickets, more paperwork, and then suddenly and literally overnight becoming full-time foreigners.

Everyday, I learn a little more about our new home and new medical system. I look forward to sharing more about my experiences in the UK, to both highlight the differences and similarities between our two systems and how PAs fit into the NHS. Hopefully some of these insights will help us improve our own practice on either side of the pond. No matter what, one thing I know for certain is that these next 2 years are bound to be quite the adventure.

11 Responses to “Taking a Leap … Across the Pond”

  1. Megan Tetlow says:

    Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest with the links above. Additionally if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below and I will try to address them in a future post. Cheers!

  2. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Yorkshire area. I was fortunate enough to consult there as part of an NHS contract with United Health Group. It is a stunningly beautiful area with wonderful people. It will be interesting to hear as time goes on your impression of the U.K. Model. Enjoy and keep a notebook of British sayings it will come in handy.

    • Megan Tetlow says:

      Thank you for your comments! Yes, it is a strikingly beautiful area (especially when the sun occasionally comes out!) and everyone has been really friendly and welcoming, and interested in learning about the PA concept. The list of British sayings is a great idea, I feel like I hear a new one everyday!

  3. Stephanie Kling says:

    Megan, I can’t wait to hear all about your experience across the pond.

  4. Marty Tetlow says:

    What a pleasure this will be to follow. Looking forward to the future! !

  5. Jo, RN 6 North says:

    Megan, it is so wonderful to hear of your new adventures and opportunities. We of course, miss you greatly! Your knowledge, professionalism, courtesy, and bright morning smile are now shared with others, but they are not forgotten on 6 North. Congratulations and good luck as you continue to spread your wings. Jo

  6. Nikki Newman says:

    Megan, this is amazing! I looked into a job a few years ago in England on the Royal Air Force base. I would love to do this. Please keep me posted on how things are going throughout your time there. Best of luck,on your new adventure.

  7. Emily says:

    Hi! I’m also from ft Myers and so interested in the program! I’d love to speak to you more about the program!!!

  8. Rob Grabenkort says:

    Megan, this sounds intriguing. I have been interested in the role of PAs in the ICU in the UK for several years. Please let me know if you hear of any opportunities in that area. Thanks.

  9. Taryn says:

    Hi Megan! I am a PA practicing in the Oklahoma City, OK area and finding your post is exactly what I was hoping for- an insider’s view on bridging the two counties via one profession. Best of luck and I look forward to reading!

  10. Matt says:

    I would love to hear feedback from practicing PAs or students on the perception of the term “Physician Associate.” Most Americans are dissatisfied with “Physician Assistant” most even wanting to change back to Physician Associate.

NP/PA Bloggers

NP/PA Bloggers

Elizabeth Donahue, RN, MSN, NP‑C
Alexandra Godfrey, BSc PT, MS PA‑C
Emily F. Moore, RN, MSN, CPNP‑PC, CCRN

Advanced practice clinicians treating patients in a variety of settings and specialties

Learn more about In Practice: Reflections from NPs and PAs.