Building a World-Class Acute Care Group Means Developing and Attracting World-Class APPs

As an emergency medicine PA, I have spent the majority of my career providing compassionate, attentive, quality care. As a medical administrator, I had the opportunity to manage clinicians and build creative educational and professional programs. As a former president of SEMPA, I had the opportunity to see how emergency medicine companies around the country were utilizing Advanced Practice Providers. Not all is as you would expect it to be. While work environments may differ nationwide, the ideal career opportunity involves the chance to be passionate about the delivery of quality acute care, within the framework of a company that invests in APPs and their growth, while valuing and rewarding their expertise and efforts.

One would expect both NPs and PAs to be working at the top of their license throughout the country, in every state. One would expect companies to recognize that enabling these advanced practice providers to work at the top of their license is the path toward the highest quality, most cost effective care. One would expect companies full of emergency physicians to recognize that allowing APPs to work to the top of their license allows them to work to the top of theirs, focusing only on the most acute patients who truly need the care of a skilled physician.

And yet many companies in healthcare are failing to keep up with the changing times. Other companies are ahead of the curve, recognizing how core Advanced Practice Providers are imperative to the business of acute care delivery, and building a company which develops and attracts only the best APPs.

That’s exactly what US Acute Care Solutions, is doing. Where possible, we are moving sites closer to a 1:1 physician to APP ratio. This ratio could seem extreme to many emergency medicine companies out there right now, many of which are significantly under-utilizing APPs. But the fact is that Advanced Practice Providers are invaluable members of the healthcare team. Developing and attracting only the best will be hallmarks of the successful companies of the future.

Leadership of APPs By APPs

Most APPs prefer to be led specifically by other APPs. On top of that, they want to collaborate with their physician leaders to provide the most effective leadership teams. The best emergency medicine groups will create an APP leadership structure at local and regional levels, and if the company is nationwide like ours, at the national level as well.

Over the last year, we have built an APP leadership structure that is aligned with our physician leadership team, beginning at the corporate level.  We have hired regional APP leaders who work side by side with the regional physician leadership and APP site leads to work with site medical directors. Additionally, we have hired APP leaders to our integrated service lines, including an APP Director of Observation Medicine and an APP Director of Integrated Acute Care.  As a team, the physician and APP leadership provide a strong foundation of structure and leadership for the company.

Developing and Attracting the Best APPs

Developing and attracting only the best APPs are mutually supportive goals. USACS is currently an industry leader in developing training and fellowship programs to train NPs and PAs in the most important aspects of emergency medicine.

Our attention to APP education, onboarding, and retention sets us apart as a destination of choice for outstanding APPs who wish to continue to develop their skill sets as emergency clinicians. Our APP Academy, a robust, 2-year onboarding and training program, is already proving to be an effective tool for attracting and recruiting the best APPs from around the country.

Companies with strong education and leadership structures in place will become companies of choice for Advanced Practice Providers, attracting the best from around the country to work in facilities where they can practice to the top of their license, answer to peers who are integrated into the overall leadership structure, and continue to develop their careers in meaningful ways.

Aligning Our APP and Physician Teams to Ownership

Finally, USACS has developed a profit sharing plan for our APPs to ensure that our care teams are all on the same page when it comes to building the best acute care group in the country. APPs who have been with our group for two years and have completed the APP Academy become eligible for the Alignment and Retention Plan. This provides them incentive units that allow them to receive distributions and participate in the shared success of the group as a whole.

Quality Care for Our Patients

All of this of course feeds back into better patient care. Our policies and programs drive our abilities to provide caring, supportive, and attentive treatment for our patients. It is our passion. It is our reason to practice medicine.

An emergency department in which all the clinicians are working at the top of their licenses is one in which wait times are lower, morale is higher, and patients get the care they need when they need it.

That, ultimately, is what building a world-class acute care company is all about.