Nationally Recognized Best Hospital Snags Award for Exceptional PA Workplace

Discover How Your Organization Can be an Employer of Excellence

December 19, 2018

By Eileen Denne, CAE, APR

Left to right: Cindy Leonard and Dottie Jones, APP Recruiters; Gail Curtis PA-C, Chair Wake Forest PA Studies; Alisha DeTroye, PA-C Director of PA Services; Christopher Craig, PA-C APP Council; Allie Thompson, PA-C APP Resilience Champion Mentor.

Having a director of PA Services allows Wake Forest Baptist Health (WFBH) to design an employment environment so academic and clinical leaders understand trends, needs and expectations of its Advanced Practice Provider (PA, NP, CNM and CRNA) workforce.

“We are an institution that recognized the key contributions that a balanced team can make in caring for patients and adjusting core processes to maximize everyone’s contributions at the top of their license,” says Russell M. Howerton, MD, FACS, WFBH chief medical officer (CMO) and professor of surgery.

Dr. Howerton was part of the leadership team that helped create a leadership role for APPs. They recruited Alisha DeTroye, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA, as Director of PA Services, who reports directly to CMO Howerton. DeTroye provides administrative oversight and support to the PA workforce and ensures that PAs have a voice at the leadership table. In addition, an APP council meets monthly to address PA and APRN issues and leads ongoing PA-related work groups such as onboarding, website communication, professional wellness, and regulatory compliance.

‘APP rich model’
“We have what I would call an APP rich model,” says Howerton. “For instance, our physician’s health network has a ratio of nearly one-to-one physicians and APPs and it is moving toward a ratio where APPs will outnumber physicians. Many organizations do not have that breadth and depth of APPs in their care model.”

Several PAs advocated that WFBH apply for the Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management’s (CHLM) Employer of Excellence (EOE) award to recognize it as an exceptional PA workplace. WFBH was named a 2018-2019 EOE winner last May for establishing a positive and supportive PA work environment amongst other criteria.

Letters of support came from two PAs: Ana K. Everwine, MPAS, PA-C, Lead APP, Section on Hospital Medicine; and Ryan C. Vann, MHS, PA-C, Family Medicine – Hillsdale. According to Everwine, “…this institution does exactly that for our PAs – provides the opportunity for growth: as people, as leaders, and as PAs.” Vann added, “As WFBH’s growth continues and the governance structure is being revised, PAs are being included in every facet. I am proud to be part of an organization where PA opinions and expertise are sought and welcomed.”

Not only has the APP program been important to Vann and Everwine, but to the institution as well, according to CMO Howerton. “We need understanding of the PA world so that those who train PAs help us as leaders design an appealing employment environment,” Howerton says.

WFBH PAs can also take advantage of several new advanced degree programs including a new partnership — the first of its kind in the U.S. — established by Wake Forest University’s School of Law online Master of Studies in Law (MSL) Program and the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant (PA) Program. The Emerging Leaders Program in Law (ELP-Law) graduates will earn a Master of Studies in Law (MSL). The cross-disciplinary initiative is designed to give PA leaders a competitive edge by helping them transform the delivery of health care while navigating a complex legal marketplace.

Better support for patients
According to Everwine, PAs practicing at the top of their license is something that has encouraged WFBH APPs to give the best care that they can. “I think that’s a huge benefit to our patient population. It is amazing to see the positive patient outcomes and it’s a rewarding feeling for our APPs and our PAs. I know that having that ability to take their knowledge from education to practice to teamwork is extremely rewarding. The patients are reaping that reward as well, in terms of the care that they’re receiving.”

WFBH is a 1,500-bed tertiary care hospital system in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which includes more than 1,200 physicians and an APP workforce of more than 1,000. Beyond its original campus, WFBH includes three community and three urgent care centers, several emergency departments, maternal-fetal and neonatal and dialysis units throughout the region. WFBH admits 60,000 patients per year, with several million outpatient visits, and half million patients under direct primary care.

Seven Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center specialties have earned top-50 rankings from U.S. News & World Report in its 2018-19 “Best Hospitals” survey. This marks the twenty-sixth consecutive year that Wake Forest Baptist programs have been listed in the U.S. News rankings. The seven specialties ranked in the 2018-19 survey, released earlier today, are Cancer (No. 19), Ear, Nose and Throat (No. 30), Geriatrics (No. 31), Nephrology (No. 38), Pulmonology (No. 41), Neurology and Neurosurgery (No. 47) and Gynecology (No. 49).

EOE as recruiting tool
The CHLM EOE award has been a significant asset to WFBH as a recruiting tool; they display the award at recruiting events and during their half-day APP orientation, they highlight that success. “We are very proud of the EOE award. We have tried to send the message that while it’s a PA award, it really is an award for the entire APP workforce,” DeTroye says.

Everwine refers to the award at an individual level in her department. “It’s something that we are very proud of. As Alisha said, it’s not just a PA award, it’s something seen across the institution as confidence in APP growth.”

The EOE Awards are designed to recognize and showcase employers that create a PA-positive environment and encourage collaborative provider teams. CHLM partnered with HealthStream in 2017 to better understand what PAs value in their place of employment. Based on the findings, CHLM identified five key drivers as criteria for its EOE Awards, 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 of organizational activity and decisions.
  • Involving PAs in leadership efforts to improve the quality of patient care.
  • Creating processes for effective conflict management.

Eileen Denne is director of Corporate Communications at AAPA. Contact her at communications@aapa.org.