New opportunities are on the horizon!
For many nurses, working in a physician’s office holds a special appeal. The advantages over a hospital job may include regular daytime hours, the chance to form ongoing patient relationships, and less job stress than you might experience at the bedside. Physician practices also seem to do a better job of retaining their nurses, according to a report issued by CareerBuilder and reported on by amednews.com.
In recent years, some nurses have seen a troubling trend, however. Because of cost issues, many physicians have been hiring medical assistants rather than RNs to take patient histories, record vital signs, and assist with patient care and education. So it might seem that nursing jobs with medical practices are drying up – but this isn’t necessarily so, says Alice Masciarelli, RN, MSN, a medical practice administrator and DNP student at American Sentinel.
Alice is one of many experts who believe the advent of the accountable care organization (ACO) will open up an array of expanded opportunities for savvy, career-minded nurses. She will be a featured speaker, along with Dr. Catherine Garner, in an American Sentinel/NurseTogether.com live online chat about the role of nurses in medical practices. It will take place on July 12 at 1 p.m. Eastern and registration information is below.
The role of accountable care in creating new nursing roles
Mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordability Act (PPACA), an ACO is more than just a large group practice. It is an entire network of doctors, hospitals, and ancillary providers that will share the responsibility of providing care to all the Medicare patients enrolled with them. Right now, the race is on to form ACOs, as medical practices merge and are acquired by hospitals and large health care systems.
What does this mean for nurses? Well, the ACO model is highly focused on quality benchmarks. It utilizes, rather than fee-for-service, a payment model known as capitation that gives providers an incentive to keep patients healthy. And it emphasizes highly effective primary care strategies and fewer hospitalizations.
With all this in mind, group practices that participate in an ACO may still employ medical assistants as task workers – to take vital signs and prepare patients for exams, for example. But there will be new opportunities for nurses as well – not only for advanced practice nurses in primary care roles, but also for nursing case managers and nursing informatics specialists. Management roles for nurses – as practice managers, directors of patient care, risk managers, etc. will also expand.