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3 Leadership Tips APPs Can Adapt In Times of Crisis

Posted on May 26, 2020   |   by   |   Advanced Practice Structure, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills APPs, Well Being

Author Jason  Fisher-Beck, MHS-PAS, PA-C
Editor Elizabeth Moran, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC

During times of crisis, such as COVID-19, leadership response within healthcare organizations can either reveal weaknessesand therefore opportunities for growth  or strengths. The 3 leadership tips development include collaboration, preparation, and alignment.  In light of COVID-19, many healthcare organizations are struggling to put the exhausted financial, staffing, and resource pieces back together. Advanced Practice Provider (APP) leaders have the opportunity to lead collaboratively and efficiently within organizations. At organizations that do not have APP leadership in place, APPs are encouraged to step up and show their strong leadership skills within the workplace environment. APPs in leadership roles can partner with nursing and physician leads to bringing about positive change. Now, more than ever, healthcare institutions need all hands on deck. Bringing together the capabilities of a diverse range of staff is important in order to create a plan for the reopening of services and how to deal with the next crisis, whether it is a local emergency or even another pandemic, find the 3 tips below:

Collaborate with other APP and hospital leaders 

Do not try and go this journey solo. Become a member of your state and national organizations, as well as Melnicwe are here to help! Utilize message boards, conferences, and online resources to find others working in the same direction as you. Other APPs can be your most meaningful resource by sharing their plans and processes. Learn from and adapt the policies of others to fit your institutional environment. Through collaboration, mutual support, and insightful feedback, you can achieve more.

Collaboration within your hospital is also paramount in times of crisis. Seize the opportunity to work with your nurse and physician leader colleagues! Work together on executive leadership committees to create an emergency preparedness plan or plans to open up service lines. Volunteer as a voting member of your hospital’s Interdisciplinary Practice Committee.  Though these committees are often overlooked, it provides some vital experience and provides some face time with leaders of other committees.  Additionally, engage or suggest the formation of an APP council or taskforce to understand the needs of the APPs, work on projects, and disseminate the goals of the organization. 

Prepare yourself and you can effectively impact your organization

Show your professional worth. Know what it means to practice at the top-of-license for NPs and PAs in your state and profession. Due to COVID-19, restrictions for APPs to practice have changed significantly. According to the article, California resists push to lift limits on nurse practitioners during Covid-19 pandemic, published in the California Healthline on 4/17/20 by Rachel Bluth “In March, Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, encouraged governors to lift supervision requirements on some medical professionals to provide more flexibility for the health care system to respond to Covid-19.”  A loosening of restrictions presents the opportunity to advocate for full scope of practice within your organization. Further your cause by reminding administrators that when APPs practice to the full scope of their practice organizational productivity is optimized. 

Also be sure to fine-tune your leadership skills.  Evaluate your own characteristic strengths, weaknesses, personality, work traits, and communication skills. Invest in yourself to develop an effective leadership style. Once you have clarity yourself on what you can bring to the table, it is important to navigate your organization and connect with the departments, leaders, and resources to help you achieve your goals.  Propose partnering with your organization to address the needs pertinent to the current COVID-19 crisis, build systems and processes to address the needs in the future, and help the organization reopen its service lines as the threat lessens. Work collaboratively to understand institutional problems, goals, and needs, and then build a plan to make a positive impact.

Create solutions to align hospital goals with the needs of the APPs 

A deep understanding of your organization’s mission, goals, and culture is key to creating a successful plan, while seeking to reinforce potential weaknesses in times of disaster. Evaluate the gaps by leveraging the knowledge of your frontline providers, APP council, as well as executive colleagues. Then build a plan that connects the needs of the APPs with the goals of the organization. Aligning your plan with organizational goals will help to build momentum and buy-in from others. A plan should be clear, concise and presented in a business format, such as an A3 report or business proposal.  If you are new in your role as an Advanced Practice leader, here is a 90-day roadmap to help you build successful relationships and do a gap analysis to find solutions and develop a plan.  It helps to communicate your plan in a variety of ways including presentations, written, and verbal communication.  Communicating effectively, aligning with the organization goals, and getting input for APPs, while working collaboratively with other leaders in the organization will help you have an impact. 

Know that collaboration with others and listening to feedback will be an ongoing process. Stay open to the input of others while remaining confident in your own plan and worth.  You should be open to ideas, suggestions and discussions, but always keep in mind that you are an expert in the APP workforce and offer a unique perspective on how these professionals can be optimized to benefit the organization. Make sure that you set meetings with stakeholders and collaborators to answer questions, maintain alignment, and discuss the next steps.

APPs as Leaders can help provide solutions as hospitals focus on solutions

APP leaders are an important part of the hospital executive leadership. Your voice, perspective, and knowledge of the workforce is a key component of crisis management, process improvement, and reopening services. Now, more than ever, we need APPs not only on the frontlines, but in the boardrooms.  They can work together to help make decisions and drive processes that influence those on the frontlines and solve complex issues that hospitals face today.

If you would like to discuss how to hire or to grow an APP service at your organization, please contact Jill Gilliland, President, Melinc. jill@melnic.com

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