Assess Advancement Ops
Is your community hospital open to QI projects? Dr. McCoy says candidates should ask direct questions during job interviews to assess a prospective employer’s approach to quality. She suggests two fair questions:
- Is it possible, within my first two years here as a junior staff member, to participate in a QI project?
- If I were successful in that venture, is this organization open and able to give me more opportunities in that field?
It is key for the medical director to know who in the administrative organization of the hospital would really appreciate a physician partner or physician champion for new projects. If young hospitalists are interested in such projects, they should make that known to their medical directors.
“Having the senior person in your group make a connection with your [administrative] partner is how things get done in the community medical center,” Dr. McCoy says.
Dr. Ferrance’s HM group comprises four physicians and one nurse practitioner, so “there are plenty of QI projects to go around.”
“I would be more than happy to give them [junior staff hospitalists] any QI project they are interested in taking on,” he adds. “With medicine evolving as it does, we need to revisit processes every two to three years.” For example, drug shortages and cost increases often necessitate formulary cutbacks and the need for a change in administration protocols.
When selecting a QI project, it pays to stay ahead of the game, Dr. McCoy says. She encourages hospitalists to be aware of the next core measures and volunteer to help develop guidelines. She helped create a new protocol for inpatient tissue plasminogen activator (tPa) evaluation for acute stroke, which was a recent recommendation for stroke center certification. This approach was key in helping Williamsport retain its accreditation as a stroke center. The hospital has garnered multiple accolades from the Joint Commission, U.S. News and World Report, and other reporting agencies.
“The community setting is a much smaller world than academia,” she says. But smaller can be good for one’s career advancement. “If you hit a project out of the park and it makes your hospital look better, you can very quickly get a promotion or an increase in other opportunities. These types of projects may lead to the hospital asking, ‘Have you thought about being director of the hospital medicine group or taking a leadership role in hospital operations?’”
Gretchen Henkel is a freelance writer in California.