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The Bright Future of Rehab Includes Student Clinical Affiliations!

Among the many important decisions related to the PDPM transition is the question of whether SNFs and their rehab partners should accept students for clinical affiliations.  As strategy consultants and leaders in therapy, HealthPRO Heritage offers this guidance: 

Despite the reality of our health care system undergoing significant change – or perhaps because of it – we must continue to invest in our industry’s future!  As such, the answer is “Yes!” to:

  • Should SNFs take in therapy students this fall?
  • Will there be time to train students amidst all the PDPM changes?
  • How can having students in the SNF rehab department help with the PDPM transition and beyond?

Progressive SNFs and forward-thinking therapy companies must recognize the value of embracing student programs.  Consider the advantages…

…For Our Industry’s Future Therapists
Our nation’s schools focus their curriculum on the fundamental clinical concepts of evaluation and treatment but not on topics like reimbursement drivers and health care reform. So as leaders in post-acute care, we all must take responsibility to help future clinicians understand how to embrace the ever-changing trends in healthcare.  Who better to teach our future therapy professionals about PDPM than our current care teams who are living through it in “real time”?

After all, the only constant in healthcare is change.  Our future clinicians must learn how to adapt and embrace new models of care to be successful!

…For the Interdisciplinary Team
As SNFs prepare for PDPM, one important revelation has become very clear:  all clinical staff must work together to effectively transition each patient along the continuum of care.  The notion of “working in silos” is (thankfully!) behind us, and today’s interdisciplinary staff is the most well suited for educating our future therapists on how to contribute as an effective member of the team. The sooner our industry’s therapists experience how to contribute as integral members of the larger interdisciplinary team, the stronger our clinical care teams will be in the future!  (THINK: “It takes a village….”)

…For Current Therapy Professionals
Experienced therapists understand how working with students not only is a significant contribution to the industry, but also enhances their own personal and professional growth as well.  Clinical educators who teach and train new students benefit from the challenge of staying current and are required to have a deeper, more detailed understanding of every aspect of assessment and treatment.  Sometimes clinical educators may even be learning alongside their students! Overall, the experience that comes with supervising new students makes therapists stronger, more valuable members of the rehab team.

…For the Vitality, Efficiency & Future of SNF Rehab Departments   
It’s widely accepted that during the on-boarding process and initial stages, more time may be required to bring a new student up to speed.  Also, clinical educators must often invest resources in preparing for new students as well.  But students are ultimately regarded as an extension of their supervising therapist, and the two can work as one entity.  As such, the impact for a SNF rehab department can be very positive!  Students have the potential to contribute to the efficiency, overall quality of care, and resident satisfaction.

Each student will – when appropriate -  be able to assist with treatments, interact with patients, complete assessments, perform standardized tests, and document care.  Also, under PDPM, students will assist with completing group and concurrent treatments. 

Students can also contribute to special research and clinical programming that might otherwise not be completed due to staff’s limited time and manpower. Students might develop group repertoires, protocols, or expand a SNF’s library of health literacy topics.  In short, students can allow more time for your clinicians to advance important PDPM-related initiatives such as finalizing documentation redesign, expanding clinical programs, expanding clinical grand rounds, and conducting screens.

Once a student enjoys a positive, hands-on clinical affiliation in post-acute care, there’s a strong possibility he/she will come knocking on the SNF’s door looking for a job once they graduate. What better candidate than one who has already trained with your interdisciplinary staff?

Focus on What’s Best for Patients
Everyone (especially the patients!) will win when our new clinicians are well-prepared and aligned with initiatives that drive success. 

As a leader in your industry, set a course for sustained, long-range success (THINK: Beyond PDPM!), and consider strategies (such as continuing clinical affiliations for therapists) that support growth and innovation.  Say “Yes!” to inviting students to ride the wave of the PDPM transition amidst seasoned professionals so we all learn together how to optimize patient care in an ever-changing healthcare system.

Schools, Clinical Educators, and Students 
For inquiries RE: participating/contracting at one of hundreds of HealthPRO Heritage affiliated sites across the country, contact our Student Resource Department at studentplacement@healthpro-heritage.com or learn more at www.healhtpro-heritage.com/careers/studentplacement. 

Tags: PDPM, CMS Update 2019