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Encouraging and Preparing Providers to Volunteer in Emergencies

Adaptive Medical Partners | Healthcare Administrators, Physician Recruiting

Disasters happen. And though hospitals, health systems, clinics and other healthcare facilities cannot with certainty know what emergencies they and their communities will experience, they certainly can plan for in case of emergency. Most healthcare entities are even required to prepare for emergency situations and disaster circumstances. Key to any emergency preparation are the physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers who will be needed to give care. Incorporating providers in the planning process as well as in the plan itself improves emergency response and recovery, and encouraging and preparing providers to volunteer their medical skills during emergencies benefits the individuals, their organizations and the people receiving their crisis services.

Emergency Preparedness Rule

In 2016 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rule Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers(Emergency Preparedness rule). These regulations establish national emergency preparedness requirements for all provider types that participate in the Medicare or Medicaid programs. The requirements intend to ensure adequate planning for both natural and man-made disasters as well as to facilitate coordination with federal, state, tribal, regional and local emergency preparedness systems.

The Emergency Preparedness rule requires four core elements:

  • Risk assessment of possible hazards and emergency plan to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from a range of emergency situations
  • Communication plan for coordinating patient care within your facility as well as with external stakeholders
  • Written policies and procedures developed in response to the emergency plan
  • Testing and training program for staff to develop and demonstrate the required knowledge and skills

Benefits of Physicians Volunteering

Your healthcare facility probably suffers from a physician shortage due to the national, industry-wide market conditions. Why, you might wonder, would you want to exacerbate your facility’s staffing shortage by allowing and even encouraging your providers to volunteer elsewhere?

  • Effective way to use and improve skills as well as learn and practice new ones. Volunteering in an emergency allows providers to put their medical, communications, planning and other skills to use. It also provides real-world training that will help providers better fulfill your emergency plan and be better prepared for the testing and training program activities. A critical component in preparing for emergencies is physician preparedness, since some of the physician response and recovery roles require knowledge and skills that most do not possess. Examples include allocation of scarce and critical resources and physicians’ roles in command and management, including use of the Incident Command System (ICS).
  • Personal satisfaction, improved health and increased happiness that help minimize burnout. Volunteering to help others can bring great satisfaction and a sense of meaning in addition to having a significant positive effect on individual health. Research presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service shows that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life. Increased personal and professional satisfaction lessens the feelings of burnout frequently experienced by providers.
  • Expanded professional and social networks. Volunteering helps to broaden physicians’ social networks through interacting with others who share a common interest while supporting important activities in the community. These networks may be called upon if your hospital or facility faces its own future disaster.
  • Public health improvements and strengthened national security. When providers and other professionals assist communities in strengthening emergency response, promoting public health and enhancing community resiliency, everyone benefits.

Adaptive Medical Partners, a premier physician recruiting agency, can help you find providers to fill your short-term and long-term staffing needs. Contact us to begin discussions about solutions to your healthcare staffing emergency.