Imagine a world with fewer and fewer hospitals jam-packed with healthcare students waiting in a line to receive hands-on clinical education with a qualified preceptor. Imagine the same world perfectly imbalanced by a poor recognition and reward system for the already overtasked clinical educator-healthcare provider (aka “superhero”).
**Disclaimer: If you imagine much further, you will crash into reality and end up on a hospital gurney repeating the same past medical, surgical, and social history five times to five different healthcare students. Not the patient experience and staff satisfaction scorecards I want at my hospital. Not to mention, the future ambassadors of our healthcare system deserve better!
Today there are approximately 25% less hospitals in the United States than there were in 1975. Truth be told, from a patient care perspective, we probably never needed so many money-losing healthcare institutions all along in order to serve our population and achieve our outcome goals. However, like most ecosystem disruptions, there are often unattended, and at times significantly negative consequences to certain essential species inhabiting the land – e.g., our healthcare students and our clinical educators.
Fast forward again from 1975 to today, the population in the United States has grown by approximately 112 million people, an increase of 35%. Naturally we would expect an increase in the amount of healthcare professionals and services available to match the needs of the growing population. For the most part, this is happening.
Over the past 10 years, total enrollment in U.S. allopathic medical schools is up 19%. Even more striking, over the same period of time, is the 72% increase in total enrollment of U.S. osteopathic medical schools. In 1991 there were 51 physician assistant programs in the United States, today there are 236, nearly 5x as many, and the number continues to grow. Coupled by a boom in nurse practitioner programs and a 41% increase in the number of basic nursing program seats (associates, diploma, and baccalaureate) from 2006 to 2016, the United States healthcare education system has done quite well to speed up the assembly line of healthcare professionals.
But just like a white coat is only as strong as the fabric from which it is made, the production of more healthcare training programs and students is only as beneficial to our healthcare system as the quality of the clinical experiences available.
At the 2015 American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) meeting, it was reported that approximately 80% of physician assistant programs experience a shortage of clinical rotation sites with approximately 1/3 of these programs reporting that they “often” or “always” struggle to place students. Equally as concerning, data from the 2014 National League for Nursing’s Biennial Survey of Schools of Nursing demonstrated that 41% and 46% of BSN and masters nursing programs cited the “lack of clinical placement” is the main obstacle to capacity. Finally, as if we needed more data to support such a disconcerting trend, The Joint Report of the 2013 Multi-Discipline Clerkship/Clinical Training Site Survey demonstrated the vast majority of every responding M.D., D.O., N.P., and P.A. program cited they were “moderately” to “very” concerned about the number of clinical sites for their students in the future (range 80%-96%).
Today we have less hospitals, more patients, and more healthcare students to educate. Hospitals and their clinical educators represent the life support of clinical education. The current state suggests that we (i) are at full capacity for educating our healthcare students, (ii) provide poor recognition and reward to the strained clinical educators that provide meaningful healthcare education and experiences to our students, and (iii) are amidst a clinical education bubble. Did I mention the looming healthcare shortage?
Without ample supply of high-quality clinical placements, the assembly line production of healthcare students cannot yield a quality, market-ready product so desperately needed by our patients. Further, without well trained healthcare students, there cannot be high-quality healthcare.
Clinical Rotation’s mission is to disrupt the current state by ensuring availability of high-quality clinical education and provide recognition and reward to the clinical educators that deliver it. Our trademarked marketplace platform for clinical rotations is our cure for the ailments plaguing healthcare education. Not only do we look forward to your partnership in order to succeed in our mission, furthermore we take pride in serving all the professions that care about the future of our healthcare system.