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For MDs: Growing Your Practice with the Help of Your PA

The physician/PA relationship is unlike any other relationship in the office. It truly is a partnership that depends on mutual trust, respect, and communication.  Below are some quick tips for getting the most out of your working relationship with your PA to best benefit you and your practice.
1. Assign a Dedicated Medical Assistant or Nurse to your PA
This may sound counter-intuitive, but when your PA works in a team, they will be able to see patients quicker and spend less time prepping rooms and chasing down lab results.  In addition to the direct financial benefits associated with assigning a MA(s) to the PA, it also sends an important message to patients and staff. 
When a patient watches the PA perform the duties of a MA (i.e. bringing patients back from the waiting room, doing their own surgical preps) they may begin to view the PA as a lower-level assistant rather than as an advanced practitioner.  As such, these patients may be reluctant to ever utilize the services of the PA in the future.  Helping your PA to focus on the work they are properly trained to do will help send the right message to your staff and patients.
2. Provide Good Financial Incentive
While the average PA makes approximately $80,000 a year (or more depending on area and speciality), there are multiple methods for structuring a compensation package for the PA.  Most commonly, the PA receives a percentage of collections or billings over their base pay.  Regardless of the specifics of the financial plan structure, it must be fair, explainable, and attainable.   
However, you should feel free to be creative with your benefits and compensation offering.  Many PAs are attracted by a flexible schedule or a more unique bonus structure.   Remember that while most PAs are immensely profitable to your practice, your number one priority is improving patient access to care.  Therefore if your PA increases access to care, either by directly offering appointments, lightening up your schedule, or allowing you more time with complicated patients, he or she is already worth their weight in gold!  
If the practice (and your) stress level drops, patients will feel more welcome and at ease.  It will also cut down on frustrating wait times in your office.  This will easily translate to improved word-of-mouth promotion.
3. Set Your PA up for Success
If you are new to working with PAs and therefore a little unsure as to how much financial gain your PA will contribute to your practice, it might be tempting to start out only using a PA on a slow-paced, as-needed basis.  However, rather than gradually introducing a PA to your practice, a far more successful approach is to introduce the PA at a full schedule.  On day one, be sure the full “infrastructure” for the PA is in place: support staff, exam rooms, supplies, etc. 
Be involved in the professional success of your PA and you’ll find that you’ll reap the benefits of a successful, hardworking and motivated PA. Treat them as a valued colleague.  It is crucial to understand how to grow and maintain a mutually respectful and communicative relationship with your PA.  You and your practice will grow as your partnership with your PA grows!
[Image by Eva Blue]

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