Hospitalist PA and health system leader: Emilie Thornhill Davis


How does SHM support hospitalist PAs?

SHM is the home where you have physicians, nurse practitioners, and PAs all represented by one society, which I think is really important whenever we’re talking about a membership organization that reflects what things truly look like in practice. When I am a member of SHM, and the physician I work with is a member of SHM, we are getting the same journals and are both familiar with the changes that occur nationally in our specialty; this really helps us to align ourselves clinically, and to understand what’s going on across the country.

What kind of resources do hospitalist PAs need to succeed, either from SHM or from their own institutions?

I think the first thing we have to do is make sure that we’re getting the nomenclature right, that we’re referring to nurse practitioners and physician assistants by their appropriate names and recognizing their role in hospital medicine. Every year that I spoke at the SHM Annual Conference, I had many hospital medicine leaders come up to me and say they needed help with incorporating NPs and PAs, not only clinically, but also making sure they were represented within their hospital system. That’s why we developed the toolkit, which provides resources for integrating NPs and PAs into practice.

There is an investment early on when you bring PAs into your group to train them. We often use the SHM core competencies when we are referring to a training guide for PAs or NPs as a way to categorize the different materials that they would need to know to practice efficiently, but I do think those could be expanded upon.

What’s on the horizon for NPs and PAs in hospital medicine?

One national trend I see is an increase in the number of NPs and PAs entering hospital medicine. The other big trend is the formal development of postgraduate fellowships for PAs in hospital medicine. As the complexity of our health systems continues to grow, the feeling is that to get a nurse practitioner and PA the training they need, there are benefits to having a protected postgrad year to learn.

One unique thing about nurse practitioners and PAs is their versatility and their ability to move among the various medical specialties. As a PA or a nurse practitioner, if I’m working in hospital medicine and I have a really strong foundation, there’s nothing to say that I couldn’t then accept a job in CV surgery or cardiology and bring those skills with me from hospital medicine.

But this is kind of a double-edged sword, because it also means that you may have a PA or NP leave your HM group after 1-2 years. That kind of turnover is a difficult thing to address, because it means dealing with issues such as workplace culture and compensation. But that shows why training and engagement is important early on in that first year – to make sure that NPs and PAs feel fully supported to meet the demands that hospital medicine requires. All of those things really factor into whether an NP or PA will choose to continue in the field.


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