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Promoting Positive Work Environments Critical in Ensuring Quality Patient Care

By Jennifer Broderick  
   June 19, 2018

AAPA’s Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management created the Employer of Excellence Awards to showcase hospitals and health systems that excel in creating positive work environments for PAs. Learn more about this award.

No matter the profession, employers are an important and memorable part of any job. When looking back over a career, some employers will always stand above the rest. They afford opportunities for professional growth, create progressive work environments, and are invested in their employees’ success.

For PAs (physician assistants), the best employers are those that implement practices that create positive work environments and encourage collaborative provider teams. 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.

To showcase progressive employers and their inspiring work, the American Academy of PAs’ (AAPA) Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management (CHLM) launched the Employer of Excellence Awards. For the inaugural year, eight hospitals and health systems were selected as Employers of Excellence:

  • Brigham Health – Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Boston

  • The Cleveland Clinic – Cleveland

  • El Centro Family Health – Taos, New Mexico

  • Hospital for Special Surgery – New York

  • MidMichigan Health – Midland, Michigan

  • NYU Langone Health – New York

  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance – Seattle

  • Wake Forest Baptist Health – Winston-Salem, North Carolina

When employers support their PA workforce and utilize 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 they can work at the top of their education and experience in engaging environments improves healthcare teams. And that’s good for patients.

CHLM partnered with HealthStream, a leading provider of workforce, patient experience, and provider solutions for the healthcare industry, to gain an understanding of what PAs value in their place of employment and to determine the criteria for recognition. Based on the survey findings, the criteria for the Employer of Excellence Awards focused on key drivers of engagement including:

  • 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 will retain their designation as an Employer of Excellence for two years, and then must re-apply to maintain the designation. This year’s winners were formally recognized by their peers at AAPA 2018 in New Orleans, but there are many other benefits that come with this recognition. 

By being publicly showcased as a top place to work for PAs, awardees can expect enhanced recruitment of highly qualified PAs from around the country. Status as an Employer of Excellence can also help to increase retention rates, reduce turnover rates among PAs, and deliver the message to patients that engaged, involved, and satisfied PAs lead to better patient care and quality outcomes. The Employers of Excellence are model PA employers in the healthcare industry, which provides opportunities for them to share their stories of effective team practice and PA-positive work environments.

Here are just a few examples from these eight hospitals and healthcare systems which illustrate how their PAs can practice at the top of their education and experience:

  • A program in which PAs independently staff clinics to increase patient access and quality of care;

  • A creative reporting structure that establishes collaborative partnerships between PAs and physicians;

  • Comprehensive onboarding programs designed to increase retention rates and competency levels;

  • And, PA-led councils that provide guidance to the C-suite on how to improve patient care and support for PAs.

This award is perfectly aligned with CHLM’s mission of working directly with hospitals and health systems to enhance team-based patient care. CHLM provides expertise, analytics and industry best practices to help clients evaluate organizational alternatives designed to improve the effectiveness of their provider workforce.

The next application period opens in the fall of 2018. Any hospital or health system in the United States that employs 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 hospital or health system employs PAs and fosters a PA-positive work environment, it could be the next winner.  

Jennifer Broderick is the managing director of CHLM


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