Dr. Nelson also points out that using NPPs in a clerical fashion, such as discharge planning, is not optimizing the NPPs capabilities. This point is well taken. If clerical assistance is needed, hire the appropriate discipline.
He also says in order to integrate and maximize the benefit of the NPP to a particular practice, a careful analysis of the needs of the practice should be performed prior to hiring. This will allow both physicians and the NPP to have clear expectations. An emphasis should be placed on the importance of recognizing the level of experience will likely impact the role. For example, utilizing a new graduate in a short-stay observation unit with limited diagnoses and treatments may make sense, but utilizing an NPP as a nocturnist, cross-covering and independently admitting patients, would require an NPP with years of experience. It is crucial to hire the right NPP with the right qualifications and experience for the job.
Dr. Nelson states patient satisfaction may decline by adding NPPs to the practice. Rather than focusing on possible dilution of a patient experience with the addition of another healthcare provider, one should instead consider the potential of adding another perspective to the team. Two providers with unique educational backgrounds and insight may indeed be better than one. Utilization of NPPs can increase face time with patients, subsequently increasing patient satisfaction. Additionally, research in outpatient settings shows no difference in patient satisfaction between physicians and NPPs; more research in inpatient settings needs to be performed.
We encourage HMG directors to refer to our expanded section on SHM’s Web site, “Practice Resources,” which has a wealth of information regarding NPP utilization. The NPP committee will be hosting two courses at the annual meeting, “The Basics: Can NPs/PAs Meet Our Needs,” and “Advanced Concepts: Three Different Practice Models.”
Jina Saltzman, PA-C, University of Chicago Medical Center
Dear readers: My main goal in writing the column was to indicate that NPs and PAs could be valuable contributors to many hospitalist practices. Yet, many practices fail to create the optimal role for them, one that contributes to patient outcomes, efficiency and economic health, and provides a rewarding role for the NPP.
I do not have an anti-PA, pro-NP bias. My intention was not to take sides regarding whether PAs or NPs are more skilled or better for patients. I think that is a function of the individual, much more than their training certificate (same with MDs). I did not intend to imply “nurse practitioners providing hospitalist coverage should function independently, without any physician supervision, oversight, or input.”
Lastly, I did make a factual error regarding the differences in physician supervision required for NPs and PAs. Saltzman’s letter above addresses the error. TH