Our providers are called to work in the nonprofit health care setting because of their commitment to our communities and their patients, but the threat of burnout is ever-present. Completing paperwork outside of business hours is so prevalent in health care that it is known colloquially as working on “pajama time.” Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic has long committed itself to empowering providers to make the most of their time with patients, and our recent initiatives aim to reduce the administrative burden of their care.
Scribe X provides remote medical professionals who partner with our providers in the exam room to document the encounter. This not only decreases the record-keeping burden of the provider, but it also has the added benefit of allowing their attention to be focused on the patient. While this partnership is in its infancy, the feedback has been promising. Scribes work closely with their assigned provider to deliver notes as the provider would have written them, and patients have few complaints about the presence of another health care professional in their exam. As the success of this program grows, we hope to deploy it in more clinics across our network.
While having a scribe on hand certainly frees up providers to focus on practicing medicine rather than recording it, one adjustment we made for all providers was to make more time in their schedules to complete their charts. Rolling out such an initiative is relatively simple, but ensuring that we maintain a good balance of patient access and provider chart time was essential for this effort to be successful.
One budding pilot program splits the time of Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs) between clinical work and support provider support. APCs provider support work will include responding to patient messages, nurse messages, pharmacy refills, and other routine medical communications that circulate in providers’ in-baskets. This program is being beta-tested across three locations, each having the leeway to tailor their specific contributions to their providers to encourage innovation and efficacy in their support.
In addition to hiring supportive APCs, we’ve begun a mentoring program for new physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The learning curve for new APCs fresh out of med school can be very steep. Extended onboarding and temporary mentoring for new providers is a normal part of our operations, but we needed to do more to support these new professionals. Now, for the first two years of employment, APCs will enjoy dedicated mentorship time to support their clinical work and professional development. This includes an extra year of didactics, helping to enhance their medical knowledge base. This program also allows our experienced practitioners an opportunity to pass along their expertise while nurturing the development of our new providers. Some measure of this work was being done organically, but it is our hope that this will be another solution to provider burnout.
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic attracts very dedicated health professionals, and we’re dedicated to getting them what they need to continue to deliver amazing care to our communities.