While Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) are board certified, there is still a need for enhanced educational opportunities. These experiences develop practical skills in an evidence-based manner and advance knowledge application in a clinical setting. An APP fellowship empowers provider confidence, integrates APPs into their career more proficiently, improves the delivery of patient care, and develops safer providers.
What Is the Definition of Advanced Practice Providers?
“The term ‘advanced practice providers’ (APPs) refers to NPs and PAs, as well as other licensed, non-physician providers, including certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists,” according to the American Journal of Managed Care.
In the 1960’s, the role of NPs and PAs took shape due to a primary care shortage. Sixty years later, the United States finds itself in a similar precarious scenario, experiencing a massive primary care physician shortage. This shortage has been partially responsible for an explosive growth in NPs and PAs. The resurgence paired with the evolving complexity of patient care has led The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) to call for APP Fellowship Programs, also known as Transition to Practice Programs, more than once—2010 and again in 2015.
What Is an Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship Program?
An advanced practice provider fellowship program leverages evidence-based education and training combined with critical best practices, like mentorship, to accelerate providers into practice more efficiently and with higher competency. An APP fellowship, or transition to practice program, is designed to deliver comprehensive clinical expertise through the application of the provider’s existing knowledge in a supportive learning environment.
Transition to practice programs solve for challenges that all healthcare organizations experience: overwhelmed providers, providers challenged with the application of knowledge, exceedingly more complex patient care, and likely the costliest concern of facilities today—APP retention.
Transition to Practice & APP Fellowship Programs: What to Look For
If you are thinking about having your APPs participate in a transition to practice program or considering undertaking the creation of your own fellowship program, there are necessary elements crucial to making your investment, and the program, successful.
1. Board Certified Instructors
It is pivotal to employ instructors or faculty that are certified, practicing clinicians, preferably who are considered experts in their field of practice. If your program lacks credible instructors with a high-level of expertise, the program won’t be as effective. Your faculty should be equipped to lead timely, relevant, and evidence-based discussions. Given that the content taught is developed by the instructor, the quality and knowledge gained from the program hinges on the quality of your faculty.
2. Expert Speakers
In addition to your speakers being board certified clinicians that are actively practicing, they also need to be “expert speakers.” This means your faculty should be comprised of engaging instructors who can capture the attention of your providers. If your providers are not engaged in the discussions, they will not gain as much applicable skills from the program as required for the organization to achieve a compelling ROI. The speaker’s ability to deliver meaningful lectures and lead dynamic discussions is as equally important as their credentials.
3. Robust Curriculum
Patient care, particularly in a primary care setting, covers a broad scope. Advanced Practice Providers need practical application knowledge from cardiology to endocrine, from dermatology to pediatrics, and everything in between. As we have mentioned, patient care is exceedingly more complex today, making the role of NPs and PAs more complex. Your curriculum needs to be robust in scope to account for the skills required to optimally perform their roles in today’s environment. You should look for a program that offers the tools necessary to prepare APPs for the unique patients they will care for daily.
4. Mentorship & Support
Mentorship is a well-established best practice for professional development as it has a proven impact on provider satisfaction and performance. Establishing a formal mentorship program, or a structured mentorship component to your APP fellowship, is important for continuous improvement. Providers who feel supported and guided in their transition to practice journey will become more confident, capable, and empowered APPs.
5. Scalable Programs
Best practices in care constantly, and rapidly, evolve. What is considered an accepted standard today for a particular procedure could be improved or altered tomorrow. This makes it crucial for your education to maintain a pulse on the changing tactics. Your transition to practice education needs to undergo continuous management and content improvement that can scale with the changing techniques in care.
6. Accredited Programs
Your program should be more than robust and relevant; it should also be accredited. By utilizing an accredited curriculum as part of your APP fellowship, you can trust the content is certified and demonstrates a high-level of educational acumen in providing effective, practice-based continuing education that supports US health care quality improvement. If you are creating the educational curriculum on your own, you will want to seek (and budget for) proper accreditation.
7. User-Friendly Learning Management System (LMS)
It may sound simple, but the quality of delivery can be as critical as the quality of the curriculum. There are a few different groups who will utilize the platform: APPs, employers, and the instructors.
APPs: The educational experience for your providers impacts their propensity to comply with the program requirements. The program should be administered in an easy-to-use format and include flexibility to empower learning anywhere.
Employers: A quality learning management system will include elements allowing the healthcare employer to measure the success of the program. You will want visibility into your program through provider data analytics. For example, you will want answers to questions such as:
- Has the provider attended their courses mostly live or on-demand?
- How are they performing on the course assessments?
- What is the average assessment score across your program participants overall?
Instructors: Your faculty is busy. The LMS should allow them to add any course materials or make timely updates with ease. It should also make teaching a seamless, stress-free experience.
Organizations should look for a program that offers one aligned platform connecting learning insights, flexibility, and ease of use for instructor-led training.
Get Started with the Best Educational Curriculum for Your APP Fellowship Program Today!
Clinicians integrated into their organization through a transition to practice program demonstrate higher productivity and better outcomes because of their enhanced educational opportunity. But as we have outlined, there are a lot of components required to truly make a program successful for providers and their employers.
ThriveAP offers a scalable, turnkey transition to practice educational solution, designed specifically for APPs by practicing APPs and taught by expert APPs. The curriculum is delivered live through virtual courses over twelve months and integrates seamlessly with the providers’ busy schedules. Even better? We offer rolling enrollment, no matter when you are ready to implement your APP fellowship, we can seamlessly help you achieve your transition to practice goals. Are you ready to learn more about the ThriveAP program? Let's develop thriving APPs together!