Category Archives: Medical

4 Easy Recruiting Ideas for Healthcare Positions

To ensure access to care, healthcare organizations must recruit and retain trained providers. Here are some strategies to recruit qualified providers to organizations regardless of size.

Posting On the Organizational Website
Posting on individual organizational websites announces the opening to those who are already aware of your organization.  Before posting, it’s important to consider the amount of traffic that the website gets.  Larger websites with a higher number of visitors will have more success with this strategy. Since this approach has a targeted audience (people aware of the organization) smaller websites can also be successful.
Employee Referrals
Employees are excellent resources. When a position first becomes available, share this information with current employees. Many may already know qualified candidates.  When a current employee recommends someone, it usually means that they believe this person would be a good fit for both the role and the team.  Some offices even have official employee referral programs that reward current employees who refer candidates.
Specialized Job Boards
Specialized healthcare job boards like www.washingtonhealthcarecareers.com, are great resources for candidates and employers. Applicants use specialized job boards as an easy way to identify qualified openings.
When employers post on these sites, they end up with more qualified applicants.  Although many sites have larger audiences, employers may receive more applications from unqualified applicants.
Physician Recruiters
There are two types of physician recruiting firms, retained and contingency.  One main difference between the two is the fee structure. Retained firms typically charge a retainer, and get a bonus when a position has been filled.  Contingency firms typically do not charge a retainer, and instead charge their fees after a position has been filled.
Although exact costs vary, most physician recruiting firms charge around $20,000 to fill a role.  Many offices do not use recruiters because of these high costs.
Healthcare organizations use a variety of recruitment strategies.  Posts on the careers/employment section of the website inform applicants who are already aware of the organization. Employee referrals allow current staff members to recommend others who could be good fits in the role, and the organization. Specialized job boards offer a simple way to capture more qualified candidates.  Physician recruiting firms offer specialized recruiting tactics for a fee.  All of these tactics are useful for different sizes and types of healthcare organizations.

 
Resources
McDonnell, Sepi. When you SHOULD use a Physician Recruiter. Fidelis Partners. 12 September 2011.   http://fidelismp.com/when-you-should-use-a-physician-recruiter-2/ Accessed May 30, 2017.
National Association of Physician Recruiters. 2017 http://napr.org/ (Accessed May 30, 2017)
Roth, Gary. Contingency Physician Recruiting? What a SCAM! 8 September 2015, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/contingency-physician-recruiting-what-scam-gary-a-roth
Staff Care: An AMN Healthcare Company. Best Practices for Working with a Physician Recruitment Firm. 22 April 2016. (https://www.staffcare.com/best-practices-working-with-physician-recruitment-firms/?mobile=0) Accessed May 30, 2017.

Should I Hire a Physician Recruiter?

Question: My organization has an open position.  Should I hire a physician recruiter to help me fill this role?Recruiter
Answer:  It depends.  While physician recruiting firms provide an important service, they may not be the best choice in all situations.
In the 1980s, physician recruiters were staffed to respond to a national physician shortage.  The original need for their role has disappeared, but physician recruiters are still an integral part of the healthcare system. Usually, physician recruiting firms will work on a retained or contingency basis.  Although the names do not mean much to the average person, there are important differences.
Retained firms typically charge a retainer and placement fees.  These firms work closely with organizations, and will usually have an ongoing relationship with the company.  Contingency firms typically charge placement fees, and may only work with an organization once.  Both types of recruiters will be familiar with local market needs.  Hiring a physician recruiter is expensive.  Although costs vary, some estimates suggest that it could cost around $20,000 to fill one open role.
Physician recruiting firms offer an important service that may make sense for certain healthcare organizations.  Here are some things to consider when evaluating if it makes sense for your office.

  1. Recruiters bring qualified candidates to the employer.When you hire a physician recruiter, you do not have to worry about managing job postings or receiving applications.The recruiter takes care of that.
  2. Consider the role that you’re trying to fill.Is it a role where there are already a lot of interested candidates?Or are you having trouble identifying qualified candidates using your current methods?Some organizations struggle to recruit candidates in particular fields or into specific locations. Physician recruiters could work with your organization to identify the particular needs, and find candidates who are qualified in the needed fields (and interested in a particular location.)
  3. Consider the staff hours that it will take to publicize a job, review resumes, interview, and hire a candidate.Can you commit enough staff hours to properly complete the interview and hiring process?If that’s not possible, it may make sense to work with a recruiting firm.
  4. Every recruiter is different.It may take time to find one that you would like to partner with.LinkedIn is a great resource to use to identify physician recruiters in your areas.Another resource is the directory on the National Association of Physician Recruiters website.

Resources

McDonnell, Sepi. When you SHOULD use a Physician Recruiter. Fidelis Partners. 12 September 2011.   http://fidelismp.com/when-you-should-use-a-physician-recruiter-2/ Accessed May 30, 2017.
National Association of Physician Recruiters. 2017 http://napr.org/ (Accessed May 30, 2017)
Roth, Gary. Contingency Physician Recruiting? What a SCAM! 8 September 2015, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/contingency-physician-recruiting-what-scam-gary-a-roth
Staff Care: An AMN Healthcare Company. Best Practices for Working with a Physician Recruitment Firm. 22 April 2016. (https://www.staffcare.com/best-practices-working-with-physician-recruitment-firms/?mobile=0) Accessed May 30, 2017.

Introduction to the Everett Clinic

Everett Clinic was founded when four local physicians partnered together following World War I.  Atthe time, the city of Everett was thriving.  Lumber was a huge industry and many migrated to the city looking for jobs in the mills.  When the Great Depression hit a few years later, the clinic survived because they provided medical care to mill employees.  The four founders, Drs. Samuel Caldbick, Harry Secoy, Arthur Gunderson, and Leo Trask, created a healthcare organization that continues to serve patients in the Everett and larger Snohomish County communities.

The Everett ClinicToday’s Everett Clinic
As time went on, the organization gradually grew.  Each new location meant that more providers and medical specialties were added into the organization.   Today’s Everett Clinic has 28 locations serving Snohomish County communities.  There are primary care services offered for patients of all ages.  Specialty care services include physical therapy, pain care, surgery, obstetrics, and many more.
In 2016, the organization passed two milestones.  It opened its first clinic outside of Snohomish County—in Shoreline.  Second, the Everett Clinic merged with DaVita Healthcare Partners, a Fortune 500 company that shares similar core values.

Organizational Values
The Everett Clinic provides value to their patients by prioritizing service, quality, and cost. Simply, this means that the organization recognizes that patients need treatment plans that meet their personal goals.  Throughout the organization, Everett Clinic providers provide high-quality care while also working with patients to determine the best care plan for the individual.
The organizational values translate to how the organization cares for their employees.  The Everett Clinic provides medical, dental, and vision insurance to eligible employees.  There is also paid time off, disability insurance, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, 401(k) plans and more.  The organization shares similar goals with its new partner after their 2016 merger.  DaVita Healthcare Partners has the core values of service, integrity, team, continuous improvement, accountability, fulfillment and fun.  In 2011 the Everett Clinic was recognized nationally as one of the best places to work.  In 2013, it was named as the fifth largest private employer in Snohomish County.

The Everett Clinic has provided important medical care to Snohomish County residents since 1924. Although the scope of the organization’s offerings has expanded, it is still driven by the same values that its four founders held.  Provide high-quality care to patients that helps the patient reach their personal health goals.  With 28 clinic locations sprinkled throughout Snohomish County, the Everett Clinic is an important part of the healthcare landscape in western Washington.


About DaVita Inc. Davita: Bringing Quality to Life.  https://www.davita.com/about.  Accessed February 21, 2017.
Benefits: For the Whole You. The Everett Clinic, http://www.everettclinic.com/work-everett-clinic/benefits-whole-you. Accessed February 22, 2017.
Everett, Washington. Wikipedia, 20 February 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett,_Washington. Accessed February 21, 2017.
Maps and Directions. The Everett Clinic, http://www.everettclinic.com/find-us. Accessed February 21, 2017.
More than 90 Years of Excellence. The Everett Clinic, http://www.everettclinic.com/about-us/more-90-years-excellence. Accessed February 21, 2017.
Our Core Values. The Everett Clinic,  http://www.everettclinic.com/about-us/our-core-values. Accessed February 21, 2017.
Snohomish County. Wikipedia, 2 February 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snohomish_County%2C_Washington. Accessed February 21, 2017.

What is a Medical Assistant?

Throughout the healthcare industry, staff and providers rely on medical assistants for their versatile knowledge and skills.  Found in both inpatient and outpatient settings, medical assistants support patient care clinically and administratively.

Medical AssistantWhat is the role of a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are an important part of the healthcare team.  They work closely with providers to complete assigned patient care tasks, and responsibilities vary depending on organizational needs.  In smaller healthcare offices, medical assistants schedule patient appointments, coordinate referrals, obtain insurance authorizations, room patients, request medical records, and assist in recording patient information into charts.  In larger organizations, medical assistants may have a more narrow scope of responsibilities.  Specialized clinics may require that a staff member focuses on a specific skill set.

Medical assistants work in a fluid environment, and staff must quickly adapt to changing needs. Even if there are multiple medical assistants, they may have separate responsibilities. Some staff may be expected to master a complex set of circumstances—like working on a procedure team.  Other staff may be responsible for making sure that patients are promptly roomed and paperwork is completed.  All medical assistants are available to assist patients by answering questions and solving problems.

Generally, medical assistants can room patients, take vital signs, record patient history, prepare samples for the lab, and record medical information into charts.  As appropriate, medical assistants also help physicians with appointments.  These staff members are also usually responsible for communicating updates after the patient has been roomed.

What are the Washington State Requirements?
Medical assistants in Washington must be licensed through the Washington State Department of Health. To be eligible for licensure, applicants need to complete a medical assistant training program.  Candidates should have completed a program that is offered or accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP.)  Programs with local or regional accreditations can be counted as long as the accrediting organization is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  Candidates can also be eligible if they have completed an apprenticeship program administered by the state.
Candidates who have completed an appropriate program are eligible to sit for one of four certifying exams.

  • Certified Medical Assistant Exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants
  • Registered Medical Assistant Exam through American Medical Technologists
  • Clinical Medical Assistant Exam through National Health Career Association
  • National Certified Medical Assistant Exam through the National Center for Competency Testing

Additionally, candidates must also have completed high school, have proficiency in English, and complete HIV/AIDS training. Candidates must submit all required materials for review by the Washington State Department of Health.  After review, the department will follow up with the candidate about the status of their application.


Resources
How to Become a Medical Assistant. United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 17 December 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm.  Accessed February 27, 2017.
Medical Assistants. United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 17 December 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm.  Accessed February 27, 2017.
Medical Assistant—Certified or Interim Certification Requirements. Washington State Department of Health, http://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate/MedicalAssistant/LicenseRequirements/CertifiedorInterim. Accessed February 27, 2017.

Shelton, WA Community Highlight

Mason County Court House, Shelton, WA

Located on the shores of Hammersley Inlet, Shelton is the county seat of Mason County. It’s 83 miles southwest of Seattle, and 381 miles southwest of Spokane. The city is also 133 miles north of Portland.

History
The Squaxin Island Tribe lived in Shelton long before any settlers arrived in the 1850s. David Shelton and his family were among the first settlers to arrive in the area. Originally known as Sheltonville, the area grew slowly over the next decades. In 1888, it became the county seat of Mason County. In 1890, the city was incorporated. Shelton’s logging industry began around the same time as the city was incorporated.

The twentieth century brought more change to Shelton. A fire destroyed much of downtown Shelton in 1914. Shelton General Hospital was built in 1920. In 1926, the new Northern Pacific Railroad line connected Shelton with surrounding areas, allowing local businesses to ship their products farther than before. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Shelton exported several million Christmas trees. Throughout the country, Shelton was known as Christmastown, USA. Today’s Shelton is no longer the leading exporter of Christmas trees.

Government
Shelton is the only city in the state that has a mayor/commission form of government. Instead of having a mayor and board of city commissioners, Shelton elects three city commissioners who have equal power. One of the three commissioners holds the honorary mayor title.

Population
The 2010 United States Census listed 9,834 residents living in Shelton, Washington.

Climate
Although summers are typically dry, Shelton averages 65 inches of precipitation annually. Average summer temperatures range from the high 40s to the high 70s. Average winter temperatures range from the mid-30s to the low 50s. Due to a variety of factors, the city is prone to extreme summer highs and extreme winter lows.

Economy
Shelton’s economy historically relied on farming, ranching, and logging. Dairy and oysters also played important roles. Today, Shelton’s most common industries now are retail trade, manufacturing, and agriculture.

Education
The Shelton Public School District has 3 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 3 high schools. The nearest colleges include, the Evergreen State College and South Puget Sound Community College.

Activities
With its waterfront location, Shelton offers a variety of activities. Visit Jarrell Cove State Park for different options for outdoor adventures, including camping, hiking, and boating. The park also operates satellite parks that are accessible through Jarrell Cove’s grounds. Located in nearby Union, Washington, Hunter Farms offers seasonal events and crops for visitors to explore. Located in an old Pontiac dealership, Grove Street Brewhouse serves house-made beers and sodas. All ages are welcome at Grove Street, so it’s a great option for the whole family.


Becker, Paula. “Shelton–Thumbnail History.” September 27, 2010. (http://www.historylink.org/File/9591) retrieved October 8, 2016.

City-Data.com. “Shelton, Washington.” (http://www.city-data.com/city/Shelton-Washington.html) retrieved October 4, 2016.

Grove Street Brewhouse. “About Us.” (https://grovestreetbrewhouse.wordpress.com/about-us/) retrieved October 8, 2016

Hunter Farms. “Hunter Farms.” (http://www.hunter-farms.com/) retrieved October 8, 2016.

Mason County Forest Festival. “Mason County Forest Festival.” (http://masoncountyforestfestival.org/) retrived October 8, 2016.

SheltonGuide.com. “Things to Do.” (http://sheltonguide.com/things-to-do) retrieved October 4, 2016

Shelton School District. “Shelton School District.” (https://www.sheltonschools.org/SitePages/homepage.aspx) retrieved October 4, 2016.

Washington State Parks. “Jarrell Cove State Park.” (http://parks.state.wa.us/523/Jarrell-Cove) retrieved October 8, 2016.

Wikipedia. “Shelton, Washington.” September 23, 2016. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelton,_Washington) retrieved October 4, 2016.

 

Omak, WA

Tucked away in north-central Washington State, Omak is one of the many hidden treasures that Washington state has to offer.  Located in beautiful Okanogan County, Omak has 4,800+ residents and offers a surprising mix of history and adventure.

Proximity

See Openings in Omak!

Omak is located 235 miles northeast of Seattle and 140 miles northwest of Spokane.  The city is also 84 miles northeast of Lake Chelan, 99.6 miles southeast of the North Cascades National Park, and 123 miles northeast of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Omak’s neighboring cities include, Okanogan, Riverside, Malott, and Tonaskut.

History
The Syilx (also known as the Okanogan) Native Americans historically lived in the Okanogan Valley.  When the first explorers and traders arrived in the mid 1800s, the Syilx participated in those new trading networks.  As more settlers came, tensions increased around land ownership.  During this time, the US government intervened and established what is now the Colville Reservation, which is 50 miles away from today’s Omak.

The city was officially incorporated in February 1911.  Omak’s population grew after incorporation and was also impacted by the completion of the Okanogan Irrigation Project, which was part of the larger Grand Coulee Dam Project.

Population
The 2010 US Census listed Omak with 4,845 residents.

Economy
Historically, Omak’s economy depended on agriculture and timber.  Today’s economy also includes retail, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Climate
Omak has warm summers and cold winters. Average summer temperatures range from the low 70s to the low 90s.  Average winter temperatures range from the high teens to the low 30s.  During the winter months, Omak often gets up to 13 inches of snow.

Education
The Omak School District has 2 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 2 high schools.   For those who have finished high school, Wenatchee Valley College is closest to Omak. More colleges are located approximately 100 miles away in the Greater Spokane area.

Transportation
Omak residents are lucky to have several transportation options. Drivers can use US Route 97 and Washington State Route 155 to go through Omak.  Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition also provides daily bus service between Omak, Nespelem, and Coulee Dam.  Long distance bus service is also offered monthly. Regardless of chosen transportation, the average Omak resident has a commute time of under 14 minutes.  .

Activities
As the largest city in Okanogan County, Omak hosts the Omak Stampede, one of the Northwest’s largest rodeos  Another annual event is the Okanogan County Fair which is held in nearby Okanogan.  The region is also home to several breweries and vineyards, including Alpine Brewing Company and Omak Cellars.  Lake Chelan, the North Cascades National Park, and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest are only a few hours away.

Although only 3.43 square miles, Omak offers a rich mix of history and adventure.  Make the time visit north-central Washington state.  Explore and enjoy all that Omak has to offer.  See what captures your imagination first.


CityData.com. “Omak, Washington.” 2016. (http://www.city-data.com/city/Omak-Washington.html) retrieved September 14, 2016City of Omak. “Welcome to the City of Omak, Washington, USA.”  (http://www.omakcity.com/) retrieved September 8, 2016Neighborhood Scout.  “Omak Real Estate and Demographic Information.” (https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/wa/omak/) Retrieved September 14, 2016Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition. “About Us.” 2011. (http://www.octn.org/about-us/) retrieved September 16, 2016.

Omak School District “Omak School District: Creating a Future for Every Child.” (http://www.omaksd.org/) retrieved September 14, 2016.

Omak Stampede & World Famous Suicide Race. “History of the Omak Stampede.” (http://www.omakstampede.org/?page=stampede_history) retrieved September 11, 2016

Omak Visitor Center. (http://omakvisitorcenter.org/) retrieved September 8, 2016

Wikipedia. “Omak, Washington.”  August 11, 2016. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omak,_Washington)  retrieved September 8, 2016

Community Highlight: Bremerton, Washington

Aerial view of Bremerton,WA – Naval Shipyards, Dyes Inlet, Port Washington Narrows

Bremerton, Washington offers much more than simply its ferry or shipyard.  Located on the picturesque Kitsap Peninsula, Bremerton is home to over 35,000 people and a unique mix of possibilities that pique anyone’s interest.

Climate
Located on the shores of Puget Sound’s Sinclair Inlet, Bremerton has warm dry summers and wet, mild winters.  Annual precipitation hovers around 56 inches.

Population
The 2010 census listed Bremerton’s population as 37,729.  2015 population estimates list Bremerton’s population as 39,520. With the exception of World War II, Bremerton’s population has grown steadily. During that wartime period, Bremerton’s population ballooned up to 80,000 predominantly because of its naval base.

History

The Suquamish tribe lived in Bremerton long before settlers arrived in the 1890s.  The US Navy arrived in Bremerton shortly after the first settlers did.  When Bremerton was incorporated in 1901, some feared that the shipyard’s growth would be hindered by the newly official city.  Luckily for both the city and the shipyard, they’ve been able to exist concurrently.

Economy
Both the Bremerton Annex of Naval Base Kitsap and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard play significant roles in the city’s economy.

Education
Public school education is provided by both the Bremerton School District and the Central Kitsap School District.  The nearest college is Olympic College which offers a wide variety of two year programs.

Activities
In addition to a myriad of water based activities, Bremerton’s 28.41 square miles offer residents (and visitors) the chance to do a variety of things.  Professional sports fans can cheer year round.  The Kitsap BlueJackets are the local baseball team.  Soccer fans can watch the Kitsap Pumas.  During basketball season, people can root for the Kitsap Admirals.  The Kitsap Historical Society and Museum teaches visitors about local history and highlights.  The Valentinetti Puppet Museum offers an unrivaled opportunity to watch live puppet shows and learn about the history of puppeteering.  People can participate in waterfront events, or simply explore the Bremerton Marina.

Transportation
With daily ferry service to and from downtown Seattle, Bremerton is easily accessible.  For those who prefer to drive, it takes about an hour and a half to reach Bremerton from downtown Seattle.  For those with boats, the sailing route is only 17 miles. For ferry service from Bremerton to Port Orchard, there’s the Historic Carlisle II Foot Ferry.

As the largest city in Kitsap County, Bremerton offers a unique combination of opportunities to both residents and visitors.  There are two school districts, a local college, three professional sports teams, a puppet museum and so much more.  So take time to explore Bremerton and stumble across something unexpected.


Visit Kitsap Peninsula. “Bremerton.” (http://www.visitkitsap.com/bremerton)
Wikipedia. “Bremerton, Washington.” August 7, 2016. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremerton,_Washington)

Community Highlight: Walla Walla, WA

Walla Walla, Washington

Walla Walla is one of Washington’s most intriguing cities. With more than 100 vineyards and wineries, it is quickly becoming famous for the wine it produces. Another grocery store staple, the Walla Walla sweet onion, is also from the area. Additionally, it is the birthplace of the very popular Magic: The Gathering game. In the 2000s, a national survey named Walla Walla as the friendliest small town in America. It is also home to the 2,000 bed Washington State Penitentiary, which is one of the area’s biggest employers. Here are some more facts about the (locally proclaimed) “place so nice they named it twice.”

Region
Walla Walla is in the southeastern section of Washington. It is 261 miles southeast of Seattle and 153 miles southwest of Spokane. Walla Walla is 13 miles north of the Oregon border. The town is nestled in the Walla Walla Valley and is west of the Blue Mountains.

Climate
Located in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, there is relatively low precipitation. Average summer temps range from highs in the upper 80s to lows in the mid-50s. Average winter temperatures range from highs in upper 40s to lows in the mid-20s.

Population
The 2010 census listed 31,731 people living in the Walla Walla city limits. With its two suburbs are included, the population is closer to 45,000. Walla Walla is the county seat of Walla Walla County and it is the 36th biggest city in the state.

History
A fort was established in 1818 that housed pioneers and missionaries from the eastern part of the country. The native tribes named the area Walla Walla because it means “the place of many rivers.” It was incorporated in 1862. At one point, the state was planning to make Walla Walla the capitol.

Education
Whitman College and Walla Walla Community College are located here. For those still in K-12 grades, there is the Walla Walla Public school system and the Walla Walla Catholic school system.

Transportation
Within the city, Walla Walla Valley Transit operates 9 routes. The Valley Transit Transfer Center provides connections with other regional bus systems that crisscross the area. Getting to Seattle is easy because there are three flights to and three flights from the Walla Walla Airport.

Walla Walla provides an interesting mix of opportunities. For onion lovers, it is the home to one of the most distinctive types of onions on the market. For wine lovers, it is easy to get lost in rapidly expanding world of Walla Walla wine. For students, it’s the home to two colleges and two public school systems. For the nation, it’s one of the friendliest small towns. Now is the time to go to Walla Walla and find what opportunity is most fascinating. There will be at least one, probably more.


City of Walla Walla. “Schools.” 2013 (http://www.wallawallawa.gov/visitors/schools)
City of Walla Walla. “Things to Do.” 2013. (http://www.wallawallawa.gov/visitors/thingstodo)
Dahl, Emma. The Whitman Pioneer. “Magic the Gathering–The Game’s Origins and Influence at Whitman College.” November 26, 2012 (http://whitmanpioneer.com/arts/2012/11/26/magic-the-gathering-a-games-origins-and-influence-at-whitman-college/)
Visit Walla Walla. “FAQ” (http://www.wallawalla.org/about-walla-walla/faq/)
Walla Walla County: Official County Government Site. “History of Walla Walla.” 2012 (http://www.co.walla-walla.wa.us/history.shtml)
Walla Walla Regional Airport. “Flight Schedule.” (http://www.wallawallaairport.com/flight-information/flight-schedule)
Walla Walla Valley Transit. “Routes.” (http://www.valleytransit.com/framesets/intercity.htm)
Washington State Department of Corrections. “Washington State Penitentiary History.” 2015. (http://www.doc.wa.gov/facilities/prison/wsp/washingtonsphistory.asp)
Wikipedia. “List of cities in Washington.” July 4, 2016. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Washington)
Wikipedia. “Walla Walla, Washington.” July 15, 2016. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walla_Walla,_Washington)

Rural Healthcare: the Shortage and the Benefits of Working Outside the City

There are over 908,000 actively practicing doctors and 141 medical schools in America.  Although these are large numbers, medical schools are typically located in big cities.  Since graduates often practice close to their medical school, there are more doctors in cities than in the country.  Statistically, only 1 in 10 doctors practice in rural areas.  Yet 1 in 5 Americans live in rural areas.

As the baby boomer generation ages, the shortage of doctors in rural areas is projected to grow. Although it’s a national problem, regional organizations are approaching solutions differently

The 5 state WWAMI region (including Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) has 27% of the landmass in the United States.  With only 3.3% of the American population, these states encompass some of the most rural areas in the nation.

In response to the shortage of rural providers, the region’s only medical school, the University of Washington School of Medicine, started a program intended to place more medical school graduates into rural healthcare settings.  The new TRUST (Target Rural Underserved Track) gives medical students the opportunity to partner with a rural healthcare provider throughout their entire time in medical school. This “cohesive experience” differs from the traditional route of rotations in different offices with different providers.  Although TRUST was only launched in 2009, students have already noted the positive impact of their continuing relationship with their assigned rural healthcare provider.   The TRUST program is only one response to this shortage.  Throughout the country, medical schools and organizations are organizing innovative responses to persuade providers to work in rural areas.

A 1978 study of Washington state rural physicians highlighted the benefits of working in a rural community.  Each provider had different answers, but three of these benefits were frequently listed.  In a 1978 study that interviewed rural physicians in Washington state, there were two frequently listed benefits of working in rural communities.

Rural providers see patients with a variety (and complexity) of medical issues.  One doctor was quoted saying that she relies on all aspects of her medical training, because she never knows what her patients will need care for.  The variety keeps her job interesting.

The same 1978 study noted that the small town communities often welcome the rural providers.  Many of the doctors interviewed noted that the friendly atmosphere of these communities was a huge benefit.

The shortage of doctors practicing in rural communities is an issue without a simple solution.  Instead, the answer will lay in a combination of programs and initiatives to recruit providers to work in rural communities.  Yet the first step is education.  It’s important to understand the macro factors of what is happening at the national level, and the systemic solutions being suggested.  However, it would be most beneficial to start more conversations like the ones that the TRUST students are having.  Opinions can be changed when more people take the time to learn about the life of a doctor in a rural setting and the communities they serve.


Bernstein, Lenny. “US faces 90,000 doctor shortage, medical school association warns.” March 3, 2015.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/03/03/u-s-faces-90000-doctor-shortage-by-2025-medical-school-association-warns/

Getsinger, Annie. Herald & Review. “Rural doctors enjoy the challenges, benefits of small town practice.” May 8, 2012. http://herald-review.com/news/local/rural-doctors-enjoy-the-challenges-benefits-of-small-town-practice/article_9756ab74-98d0-11e1-bc2c-0019bb2963f4.html

Hewett, Chanelle. “5 Benefits to Practicing in Rural Areas” July 12, 2012. http://healthcare-executive-insight.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/5-Benefits-to-Practicing-in-Rural-Areas.aspx

Kaiser Family Foundation. “Total Professionally Active Physicians.” April 2016. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-active-physicians/

Khazan, Olga. The Atlantic. “Why Are There So Few Doctors In Rural America?” (August 28, 2014) http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/why-wont-doctors-move-to-rural-america/379291

National Conference of State Legislatures. “Meeting the Primary Care Needs of Rural America: Examining the Role of Non-Physician Providers” (2016)  http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/meeting-the-primary-care-needs-of-rural-america.aspx

US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. “Opinions of rural physicians about their practices, their community medical needs, and rural medical care. (July-August 1978)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1431908/

Vassar, Lyndra. “How one school is training students for rural medicine.” January 7, 2016. http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/ama-wire/post/one-school-training-students-rural-medicine

Joint Commission Accreditation

Healthcare leaders talk about visits from the Joint Commission in the hushed, reverent tones that are typically reserved for important events. Joint Commission accreditation indicates that an organization meets (or exceeds) national standards in many areas ranging from risk management to patient care.  Getting accredited is important, and all employees play a role.

What Is The Joint Commission?
The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for profit organization that is a collaboration between five other groups: the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Dental Association.

Will We Know They’re Coming?  
Yes, but not exactly.  The Joint Commission informs an organization that they intend to visit.  The organization provides a list of several potential dates that would work well to host the surveyors. Frantic preparations begin after this initial encounter.  Suddenly leaders want every staff member in every department prepared for the visit. Although a list of potential dates has been mutually agreed upon, organization leaders won’t know the date of the visit until surveyors arrive.

Why Do They Exist?
The Joint Commission’s mission is to improve healthcare of the public.  They accomplish this by evaluating, “…health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.”

What Are The Benefits?
For patients, Joint Commission accreditation indicates that an organization has met (or exceeded) national standards on patient safety measures.  For organizations, Joint Commission surveys provide custom feedback on performance. Plus an increasing number of insurers and third parties prefer accredited organizations.

How Should I Prepare?
Don’t think of it as preparing for Joint Commission.  Think of it as reviewing responsibilities and preparing for emergency or unexpected scenarios.  Take time to learn organizational goals, location of resources, and other policies.  Be able to show where fire exits and fire pulls are.  Understand emergency procedures.
Unexpected things happen in healthcare all of the time.  It is important to be aware and prepared.   All of the questions Joint Commission asks are things that all employees should know anyway. Plan to perform at Joint Commission standards all of the time.

Where Can I Find Out More?
The Joint Commission website has a lot of information about their policies, procedures, and actions.   With its five member organizations, they’re doing a lot of good work in the world of healthcare.  If interested, take the time to find out more.

For More Information On The Joint Commission
The Joint Commission. (2016) “About Us.” https://www.jointcommission.org/about_us/about_the_joint_commission_main.aspx