Innovations in Workforce Development: How Colorado’s Peak Vista Community Health Centers is Addressing the Provider Shortage

This year we are celebrating all of the innovative ways health centers create better lives for their communities. Today we are highlighting all of ways health centers participate in workforce development to build capacity in community health. Today our guest author is Pam McManus, President and CEO of Peak Vista Community Health Centers in Colorado. Pam will share what Peak Vista is doing to address the primary care provider shortage in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado.

Pam McManusGuest contributor: Pam McManus, President and CEO, Peak Vista Community Health Centers

The primary care provider shortage is no longer news; it is a troublesome obstacle to providing access to primary care and is practically household knowledge for health care professionals. With any challenge, how a person – or organization – faces the road ahead speaks volumes to character, resolve, ingenuity and commitment to success. Peak Vista Logo_New BlueDoor number one includes doing nothing at all – keeping the status quo because fear is a driving factor, blissful ignorance is at play, or paralysis has set in. Door number two leads to the path of small changes: paying attention to industry trends or mindfully watching as other change agents learn through trial and error. Door number three, however, leads to the path less traveled: proactively embarking upon a journey of calculated risk, problem-solving, and innovation.

With the ever-changing health care landscape and provider shortages sweeping the nation, Peak Vista Community Health Centers (Peak Vista) leadership asked an important question: With so many aspects out of the organization’s hands, what can the company do to minimize the impact of the provider shortage?

The question opened door number three; the answer instigated a strategic and innovative effort to address the alarming current trends: Peak Vista’s Education Health Initiative (EHI). Peak Vista’s EHI is focused on creating long-term solutions to increase access for patients, improve patient health outcomes, and locally address the primary care provider shortage through health care education. To that end, three workforce development programs are underway:

APRN Fellows
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Primary Care Fellowship

Peak Vista’s APRN Fellowship is a one-year program for recently graduated nurse practitioners to seamlessly transition from an academic to a clinical setting. The fellowship combines mentorship, problem-based learning and hands-on clinical experience. The first class of five APRN fellows is expected to graduate on August 12, the Friday during National Health Center Week.

“The fellows selected for the program are enthusiastic and driven to provide Peak Vista patients with quality care,” shared Program Director Kaleen Cullen, APRN-BC, PhD. “The program facilitates professional development and life-long learning as Fellows shift into a clinical environment.”

The next class of five fellows begin the APRN program in September 2016.

FMR Residents
Family Medicine Residency (FMR) Program

Peak Vista’s FMR is a three-year osteopathic primary care residency program. The inaugural class of eight resident physicians began caring for Peak Vista patients on July 5. These primary care doctors will perform rotations in various Peak Vista primary care health centers, local hospitals, and specialty practices.

As the only primary care residency program in the Pikes Peak region, the FMR program provides extensive access to the attending physicians, surgeries, and procedures in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The attending staff has experience in graduate medical education and the aptitude to help each resident mature and grow as a quality physician leader in our local community.

Academic Affairs

Peak Vista provides formalized clinical training opportunities in family practice, women’s health and pediatric settings for medical students from institutions such as University of Colorado School of Medicine and Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Through this effort, Peak Vista has aspired to provide medical students and interns a supportive environment and hands-on experience in a clinical setting. In 2016, dozens of medical students will learn alongside Peak Vista providers in many of Peak Vista’s 26 health center sites.

Exterior_webWith the EHI and clinical training programs successfully launched, Peak Vista’s board of directors changed the Peak Vista mission statement - “To provide exceptional health care to people facing access barriers through clinical programs and education.”

In order to serve the expanded mission, and to provide exceptional care by overcoming barriers, Peak Vista has initiated innovation through creating an organizational focus on building a local provider workforce. The adoption of the EHI provides Peak Vista this focus and strategic direction while Peak Vista may also remain both patient-centered and provider-focused.

Current trends indicate that in less than 10 years, the national projected demand for physicians will exceed the supply by a range of 46,000 to 90,000. Fortunately, studies show that providers trained in community health centers are more than three times as likely to go on to work in a community health center and more than twice as likely to work in an underserved area. While the provider shortage may not be new news, working to be part of the solution is the community health way. Peak Vista synchronized its inaugural graduation celebration for the APRN Fellowship with National Health Center Week to underscore how community health centers use innovation in workforce development.

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