What are the most challenging aspects of practicing hospital medicine?
The volume of diagnoses that we are expected to manage on a daily basis can be challenging. This challenges you to continue learning. The complexity of discharge planning, particularly for patients in underserved communities, can also be challenging. You have to make sure your patients are ready mentally, physically and emotionally for discharge. As a hospitalist, you are continuously thinking about how to optimize patients to leave your care. For example, patients have different insurance situations, different access to care at home – you are always managing the medical needs of your patient in the context of these other issues.
How does a hospitalist PA work differently from a PA in other care settings?
We are meant to be generalists. We serve as the main provider in owning our patients’ care. A hospitalist PA serves as a cog in the wheel, with connections to specialists, consultants, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, etc., and we are tasked with synthesizing all aspects of patient care to ensure the best outcome.
What has your experience taught you about how NPs and PAs can best fit into hospital medicine groups?
Each hospital medicine group will know how to best integrate their NPs and PAs based on the skillsets of their NPs and PAs, and the needs of the section and the hospital. I personally feel that the best way to utilize NPs and PAs is to allow them to own all aspects of patient care and work at the highest scope of practice. By doing this you empower the NP or PA to continue to develop their skill set and set a precedent of collaboration and respect for interprofessional care models within your section’s culture.
Scope of practice for an NP or PA is going to be based on a conglomeration of roles and bylaws. We are certified nationally, and our scope of practice is determined at the state level and the hospital by level. For the individual NP and PA, it really depends on the hospital medicine group, and how well a practice incorporates a sense of collegiality.
What kind of resources do hospitalist PAs need to succeed, either from SHM or from their own institutions?
There are a few key things that need to happen in order for hospital medicine groups to set up their NPs and PAs for success. The first is for PAs to have exposure to inpatient rotations during clinical rotations. A hospital medicine group also should have a very intentional onboarding process for NPs and PAs. They should also establish a culture of acceptance. To do this, they should utilize resources like SHM’s NP/PA Hospital Medicine Onboarding Toolkit and the SHM/American Academy of Physician Assistants Hospitalist Bootcamp On Demand.
Mentoring is also remarkably important. I have been incredibly blessed to have mentors that helped make me into the PA that I am. I could not have done what I did in the field without people taking a chance on me, and it is important to pass that on to the next generation of PAs.