Investing in ARRS roles: From students to employees at The Ridge Medical Practice

proposal

Background

10-15 years ago, training and education wasn’t focused on as thoroughly as it is now at The Ridge Medical Practice, and it struggled to recruit and retain staff. As a result, the practice made a conscious decision to develop the Investors in People accreditation it had always held and use this framework to positively impact staff retention and development to become a centre of educational excellence.

Situation

Education and training is now built into the DNA of the practice. The team enjoy training and find it rewarding and it keeps them on their toes clinically to ensure they remain current and innovative. The culture and atmosphere of the practice aims to be welcoming, supportive, nurturing and person-centred. The importance of ensuring that students and trainees feel supported is recognised – if they have a good learning experience, it’s likely that they’ll explore a career in primary care and (specifically) want to work at The Ridge.

Actions

Education and training is now built into the DNA of the practice. The team enjoy training and find it rewarding and it keeps them on their toes clinically to ensure they remain current and innovative. The culture and atmosphere of the practice aims to be welcoming, supportive, nurturing and person-centred. The importance of ensuring that students and trainees feel supported is recognised – if they have a good learning experience, it’s likely that they’ll explore a career in primary care and (specifically) want to work at The Ridge.

Clinical Outcomes

Originally, Primary Care Networks and practices had struggled to see the ‘fit’ of physician associates (PA’s) in their practices but there was a need to negate the diminishing pipeline of practice nurses and advanced nurse practitioners. The Ridge spoke to the universities of Bradford and Leeds to better understand the role, capabilities and skill set of PA’s and the decision was made to roll out student placement opportunities at The Ridge. This helped the practice to see the potential of PA’s and the role they could play as an integral part of the clinical team.

The practice employed three PA’s at the end of their degrees. They had all been on student placement in the practice and a turn towards values-based recruitment meant those with the right attitude, approach and skills were offered roles. Working in collaboration with The West Yorkshire Primary Care Workforce & Training Hub, a preceptorship course for PA’s was designed and implemented. This comprised of a peer group of PA’s who attended monthly sessions with GPs across different specialties to build skills progressively, review real life case studies and learn from one another. One PA at the practice developed a specialist interest in women’s health and now holds women’s clinics where she can fit coils and implants, as well as providing a full and holistic women’s advice service. Another PA developed an interested in cardiovascular disease and is now the lead for ECG development and interpretation.

Other ARRS roles developed in the practice include pharmacists. Pharmacists can take task-based medication queries from patients which can free up one hour of GP time per day. One pharmacist at the practice has undertaken a non-medical prescribing course with a steer towards women’s health and can carry out pill checks. This has helped the practice to grow a multi-disciplinary team working specifically on women’s health – GP led with physician associate, pharmacist and dedicated admin support to provide better, faster and more responsive patient care.

Financial Outcomes

Prioritising learning and development wasn’t directly about saving money but the ability to recruit and retain staff is important. The hidden costs of staff leaving and the need to recruit and induct new staff should not be underestimated, nor should the costs to the practice of not having enough staff, which leads to increased sickness through stress and pressure on the team that remain.

tips

Top Tips

Tackle education at PCN level rather than practice level.

Spread student placements across a PCN – emulating how ARRS roles work.

Think about the bigger picture. Present primary care as a great place to be.

Supporting the workforce and workforce development will pay dividends in the longer term.

Put your organisational values at the forefront of your approach.

“The Ridge is a values driven organisation and this underlines everything that we do. This approach (Friendly, Caring, Open, Innovative and for the Team) applies as much to our educational activities as to our patient care. This reflects across our organisation and makes a placement with us a motivational and rewarding experience. This helps create better clinicians on qualifying and encourages them to come and work for us as they know they will be nurtured and supported as they continue their learning journey.”

Practice Business Manager