Integrating Advanced Practice Providers in an Academic Department of Neurology

Background and Objectives

Integrating advanced practice providers (APPs) into neurologic practice can improve access, promote patient education, and reduce health care costs. APPs receive limited formal education in neurology, so on-the-job training is essential. We set out to identify common challenges and best practices for onboarding, training, and integrating APPs into neurologic practice.

Methods

We conducted a survey and focus group with 8 APPs currently practicing within an academic neurology department as part of a clinical quality improvement initiative. We explored their roles in multidisciplinary teams, challenges faced during onboarding and training, and strategies for success. Qualitative thematic analysis was performed.

Results

Neurology APPs serve diverse roles including caring for hospitalized and ambulatory patients, performing procedures, assisting trainees, and performing research. Participants reported limited formal neurologic education before their job and a need for educational sessions and resources tailored to APPs. Neuroanatomy, neuroimaging, and generating a neurologic differential diagnosis were key knowledge gaps identified. We identified 7 informal strategies for on-the-job training, 7 challenges to on-the-job training, and factors promoting or threatening job satisfaction. Graded responsibility and clinical mentorship were essential for successful onboarding. APPs desired peer-to-peer mentorship and structured educational opportunities.

Discussion

Common challenges and success strategies identified can inform the design of a formal curriculum for onboarding neurology APPs. Our findings suggest that an optimal APP training process involves graded responsibility and support for self-directed learning, employs peer mentors, and targets education of the multidisciplinary team including physicians and patients. Our results may inform other institutions recruiting, hiring, and training APPs.

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