Physician Assistance Services

As a physician leader or hospital executive, you know that recruiting and retaining physicians for your health care organization represents a significant investment of time and money. You also know the success and health of your organization depends on more than your physicians’ clinical abilities. When physicians display leadership, communicate effectively, and work as part of a team, they contribute to patient safety, employee morale, and retention. These “soft” skills do not come naturally to everyone.

In addition, physicians’ job demands and schedules can be overwhelming. This can have a negative impact, leading to stress in their personal life and negative behavior in the workplace.

Life Solutions developed Physician Assistance Services (PAS) in 2008 to serve over 3,000 UPMC-employed physicians and their leadership teams. WorkPartners now delivers this expertise to other health care organizations.

We have a unique perspective and customized solution based on our in-depth understanding of health care organizations and their employee populations. PAS was designed to support physicians and health systems with services that address the impact of negative workplace behavior and encourage a culture of collaboration, safety, and success. PAS provides physicians with easy-to-access resources to better manage their demanding lives at work and home.

PAS will help your organization create a culture of collaboration. A respectful work environment can lead to a reduction in medical errors, avoiding or minimizing increases in the cost of care, and improving staff retention. Our three programs span the employment cycle of the physician, from recruitment to active team member.

Program 1: Physician Support

In a survey conducted in 2012 by the Mayo Clinic, 7,288 physicians were asked about their quality of life and job satisfaction. The survey found that physicians struggle to find a satisfying work-life balance and, as a group, suffer high levels of emotional exhaustion. In fact, 46 percent of the respondents reported at least one burnout symptom.1 Physician Support is designed specifically to help physicians and their household members avoid burnout and support the management of personal- and work-related challenges, including depression, stress, conflict resolution, time management, and other work-life issues. Our professionals are experienced in serving physicians and their families. They understand the unique demands of 24/7 service delivery and patient care.

Physician Support includes:
  • Licensed behavioral health care managers
  • Available to manage a crisis situation and connect physicians and household members with appropriate community resources
Coaching and Counseling
  • Sessions address issues from family relationships to work-related challenges
  • Physicians and household members can select in-person or telephone sessions. There is no claims history or medical record, which is important to many physicians.

Our professionals conduct research and personalized searches for work-life resources. Both live Web chat and telephone access are available. Searches include, but are not limited to:

  • Finding resources for child care, adoption, and elder care.
  • Providing referrals for daily living needs, including plumbers, pet sitters, and other contract services.
  • Providing referrals for legal and financial consultations.
  • Online self-search is also an option.
Concierge Services
  • We can assist physicians in finding, purchasing, and scheduling delivery of desired goods and services.
    • Examples include securing tickets for sporting events, theater, and other entertainment venues; making dinner reservations; finding household service providers; and more.
  • The concierge will conduct the purchase transaction for selected goods or services on behalf of the physician or household members using the physician’s confidential payment information.

Program 2: Physician Intervention Services

Physician Intervention Services enables a health care organization and the physician to successfully address problematic behavior. It includes these two areas of focus:

  1. Consultation with the health care organization regarding the problematic physician behavior and its impact on the workplace
  2. Working with the physician to correct the identified behavior

Physician Intervention Services supports Joint Commission requirements and empowers physicians to successfully operate as part of a team, even under highly stressful conditions.

Physician Leadership Introduction

Addressing problematic physician behavior begins with a health system physician leadership meeting. The goals are to educate leaders to understand problematic physician behavior in the context of the psychosocial challenges of medicine, define the physician referral process, and discuss the availability to provide ongoing leadership consultation. Physician leadership support is key to success.

Leadership Consultation

The Physician Assistance Services (PAS) professional consults with health system leadership on strategies to address disruptive behavior. These may result in a referral of the physician to the program. The PAS professional maintains contact with the leader to ensure behavior is addressed to meet stated objectives.

The Physician Services professional will provide coaching and support to address the problematic behavior and its impact on the workplace, expanding the health care organization’s capacity to successfully resolve the problem.

Physician Coaching

When a physician referral is deemed necessary, the Physician Assistance professional will consult with the physician to address the identified problematic behavior. Our process includes:

  • Initial assessment
  • Development of an action plan
  • Plan implementation
  • Referral to additional services when needed
  • Resolution – the Physician Assistance professional stays involved until the issue is resolved

This service will be customized to your health care organization’s unique culture, leadership expectations, and initiatives while meeting the Joint Commission’s requirements for disruptive physician behavior.

Program 3: Physician Onboarding

Once a physician has been hired, a big factor in determining success is how well the physician understands and adapts to the hospital or health care organization’s culture. Your new physician may have been the head of his or her own practice. The physician may never have had a boss. Or the physician may be coming from a foreign country, with different cultural experiences and expectations. These factors may impact his or her adjustment. Onboarding provides an opportunity for the organization to convey its values and expectations and to identify opportunities for the physician to integrate into the culture. Physician Onboarding emphasizes that the health care organization values interpersonal skills, along with clinical expertise.

Physician Onboarding begins with an interview between your Human Resources (HR) representative and our Physician Assistance professional. The interview is focused on gaining an understanding of your organization’s cultural priorities. Next, the physician completes a situational analysis questionnaire, which highlights his or her approach to interpersonal relationships. Our Physician Assistance professional will meet with the newly hired physician to review the physician questionnaire results and discuss potential challenges. He or she will also discuss what the physician can do to ensure success.

The Physician Assistance professional is available to the physician for two additional coaching/consultation sessions at any time within the following six-month period to discuss issues as they arise. Identifying and addressing problems early leads to better retention and creates a safe, healthy, collaborative environment.

What You’ll Gain

Today’s health care landscape continues to evolve. In order to thrive, physicians, leaders, and the health care organization need to be confident that they can successfully deal with the inevitable but temporary challenges and setbacks. Life Solutions can help your organization provide services that align with governing requirements, support your bottom line, and create the resilient culture that is so crucial to success.

Reference:

1 Burnout and Satisfaction With Work-Life Balance Among US Physicians Relative to the General US Population, Tait D. Shanafelt, MD; Sonja Boone, MD; Litgen Tan, PhD.; Lotte N Dyrbye, MD, MHPE; Wayne Sotile, PhD; Daniel Satele, BS; Colin P; West, MD, PhD; Jeff Sloan, PhD; Michael R. Oreskovich, MD Archives of Internal Medicine, 2012: 172(18): 1377-1385. Doi:10.100/archinternmed.2012.31099.

This website describes general services available from WorkPartners, and is not intended to provide employee benefits, tax, or legal advice. If you have questions regarding any of the integrated health and productivity solutions described on this site, WorkPartners recommends that you consult with your benefits, tax, and/or legal advisors.

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