Gainesville, FL - Two years ago, Physician Assistant Stan Hanover P.A. was so overwhelmed with patients that he hired his own Physician Assistant Assistant (P.A.A.) team to better manage his rising patient load. Rounding on 30 patients a day and admitting another dozen had become just too much for Stan to handle.
"I went to my Hospitalist group and said I need more money to hire my own team of Physician Assistant Assistants," said Stan. "At first, they questioned the need for more help, until I told them the Dermatology clinic was hiring for days only, no holidays and no weekends and they said I could have whatever I needed."
|Physician Assistant Assistants: We're here to help you do more!|
Stan spent several months interviewing dozens of potential candidates before hiring three pre-P.A. college students for the job. "I even interviewed a few nurse practitioners for the position but they all thought they were interviewing to be my boss, so that didn't work out," said Stan.
After completing a one week hospital sponsored H&P course - usually reserved for surgeons who need help with a pre-op H&P - the physician assistant assistants were certified by Stan to begin caring for patients.
"I used to get upset when someone called me an extender, but now that I have extenders helping me see patients, I can see 60 patients a day and still have time to take a one hour lunch break with the docs."
The Hospitalist physicians couldn't be happier. "We've tripled our census in less than two years but we're doing less and less work. Now I just have to wave to my patients from the door and move on," said Dr. Alan Jensen, who now bills for over 100 patients a day and usually finishes two hours early.
Patients don't seem to mind either. Having a physician assistant assistant, a physician assistant and a physician see them daily really makes them feel like they're getting their money's worth.
"Nobody really knows who's who. We all have physician in our name, which really helps a lot with our patient satisfaction scores," said Dr. Jensen while being interviewed during his third lunch break of the day.
To really push the physician angle, Dr. Jensen has encouraged all team members to introduce themselves with emphasis on the word physician while mumbling or lip-syncing their assistant or assistant assistant title.
In addition, Dr. Jensen prefers only hiring males so as not to confuse patients. "I'm not sexist. I think women do an excellent job in medicine. Unfortunately, when we hire women, patients think they are just a nurse and that really hurts our satisfaction scores," said Dr. Jensen.
"I had to let all my female nurse practitioners go because we kept getting complaints from patients that only a nurse saw me today. In fact we even fired our female Hospitalist physicians for the same reason," said Dr. Jensen.
Given the success of the P.A.A. program, Dr Jensen envisions having a fully functioning Physician Assistant Assistant Assistant and Physician Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant program up and running in the next couple of years to continue improving operational efficiencies in an ever declining reimbursement environment.
"In the next couple of years, I anticipate billing for at least 200 patients a day," said Dr. Jensen.