When we think of advances in medicine and health care, the first things to usually come to mind are research breakthroughs and technological developments. But what about staffing?
“When I was in high school, if a student was contemplating a career in medicine, your advisor would only talk about two options – becoming a nurse or a doctor,” said Jenean Lane, MPAS, a physician assistant who works in the acute care setting at PAH caring for patients in Urology and Otorhinolaryngology.
PAH physician assistant, Jenean Lane, MPAS
Things have certainly changed since Lane was in high school. In 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officially expanded its definition of medical staff, permitting non-physician practitioners such as advanced practice nurses and physician assistants to have privileges like physician staff members. The change now allows hospitals to give advanced practice providers more authority to perform duties that they are trained to do within their scope of practice and state law and helps free up physicians to concentrate their attentions on more medically complex patients. According to the CMS, the ultimate goal of the expanded definition is to allow hospitals to explore new approaches to care which, in turn, increases the number and types of practitioners granted hospital privileges.
“Pennsylvania Hospital currently has over 60 advanced practice professionals, a combination of Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants and Certified Nurse Midwives,” said Rhoda Sulzbach, MSN, CRNP, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, clinical director of Advanced Practice Providers. “While physicians are the overall leaders in the care delivery for hospital patients, enlisting qualified advanced practice providers to assist them in overseeing the health and safety of our patients not only helps with the responsibilities of patient care, but also with quality innovation and improvement and establishing best practices application and professional standards.”
Ellen Malone, ACNP-BC, an acute care nurse practitioner who works in Vascular Surgery and is also the lead nurse practitioner for the Cardiovascular Service Line Advanced Practice Providers at PAH, agrees. “I think that we’re the matrix of the service in which we work,” said Malone. “We communicate with each other and across services and act as an additional reinforcement to the coordination of care, especially in complex cases. And anytime you improve communication you improve patient care.”