Few things are more important to PAs (physician assistants) than being able to work in a progressive and positive environment – a place where they are valued for the high-quality medical care they provide for their patients and respected as integral members of the healthcare team.
PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal provider. They work in every state, in every medical setting and across all specialties.
The American Academy of PAs’ (AAPA) Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management (CHLM) launched the Employer of Excellence Awards in 2018 to recognize those organizations that create and maintain an environment in which PAs can provide the very best care for their patients and are afforded opportunities for professional growth and leadership in their institutions.
In 2019, CHLM had 72 percent more applicants than the previous year. Fifteen organizations were selected as 2019-2020 Employers of Excellence, including four hospitals, four health systems, three physician practices, a multi-specialty practice, a federally qualified health center, a university school of medicine and a national healthcare provider serving employees at their workplaces. Winners include:
- Activate Healthcare
- Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Baylor Scott & White Health
- Lynn Community Health Center
- Madison Emergency Physicians
- Mayo Clinic
- MedStar Emergency Physicians
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health
- Rush University Medical Center
- Stanford Health Care
- Vidant Medical Center
- University of Colorado School of Medicine
When employers support their PA workforce and use PAs to their full potential, they see benefits not only to their organization but also to their patients. PAs are committed to team practice and working in collaboration with other providers. Ensuring that PAs can work in engaging environments at the top of their education, experience, and training improves healthcare teams. And that’s good for patients.
Here are just a few examples from the 2019-2020 Employers of Excellence which illustrate how they have created progressive environments in which PAs are working:
- By having PAs serve as full voting members on hospital committees, such as the medical executive committee;
- By selecting a PA to pilot, staff and oversee an entire telemedicine program for all providers;
- By fully supporting unique professional growth opportunities for clinical research and fellowships;
- And, by providing staffing incentives such as retention bonuses and recognition events and awards.
CHLM partnered with HealthStream, a leading provider of workforce, patient experience, and provider solutions for the healthcare industry, to establish benchmarks for what PAs value in their place of employment and to determine the criteria for recognition. Based on the survey data, five key drivers of engagement for the Employer of Excellence Awards were identified:
- Establishing a positive and supportive PA work environment.
- Providing opportunities for PAs to provide meaningful input that leads to positive organizational change.
- Keeping PAs informed about organizational activity and decisions.
- Involving PAs in leadership efforts to improve the quality of patient care.
- Creating processes for effective conflict management.
Awardees retain their designation as an Employer of Excellence for two years, and then must re-apply to maintain the designation. The inaugural 2018-2019 Employer of Excellence Award winners include: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, The Cleveland Clinic, El Centro Family Health, Hospital for Special Surgery, MidMichigan Health, NYU Langone Health, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and Wake Forest Baptist Health.
This year’s winners were formally recognized by their peers at AAPA 2019 in Denver, but there are many other benefits that come with this recognition.
Being publicly showcased as a top place to work for PAs allows awardees to enhance their recruitment of highly qualified PAs from across the country; increase retention and reduce turnover rates; and serve as an example that engaged, involved and satisfied PAs lead to better patient care and quality outcomes.
This award is perfectly aligned with CHLM’s mission of working directly with organizations to enhance team-based patient care. CHLM provides employers with strategic guidance on optional PA/NP utilization through custom advisory services.
The next application period opens in the fall of 2019. Any healthcare organization in the United States that employs ten or more PAs is eligible to apply. The Employer of Excellence Award is the first and only PA-specific award program available to hospitals and health systems. If your organization employs PAs and fosters a PA-positive work environment, it could be the next winner.
Jennifer Broderick is the managing director of CHLM.