Calling All PA Education Advocates: Help Address the Clinical Training Site Shortage

PAEA needs your help. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently included a PAEA-suggested improvement activity provision for preceptors of PA students within the 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP) proposed rule. Now, during the 60-day comment period, we need you to voice your support for the provision to ensure that it is included in the final rule. Nearly 150 program directors and faculty have already submitted comments — thank you! But the total number of comments is important and we encourage all PA faculty, students, and advocates for PA education to submit comments. Please use your program channels to make your students and colleagues aware of this opportunity to advocate for PA clinical education.

As part of its ongoing focus on the clinical training site shortage facing PA programs, PAEA’s Government Relations team submitted a proposal to CMS for a new improvement activity that provides an incentive for clinicians to serve as preceptors for PA students. The provision grants improvement activity credit to:

“MIPS eligible clinicians acting as a preceptor for clinicians-in-training (such as medical residents/fellows, medical students, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or clinical nurse specialists) and accepting such clinicians for clinical rotations in community practices in small, underserved, or rural areas.”

We ask you to please submit the following comment to CMS by 5:00 p.m. ET on August 21. Note: Be sure to uncheck the option to submit on behalf of a third party.

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As an advocate for PA education, I write today in support of the decision of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to include improvement activity IA_AHE_XX, “Providing Education Opportunities for New Clinicians,” in its proposed rule governing the second year of the Quality Payment Program. This new improvement activity would grant credit to clinicians eligible for the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) who serve as preceptors for PA students, an important initiative to achieve health equity and deliver high-value, quality care to patients now and into the future. While this proposal is a major step forward, CMS should expand eligible preceptor sites to hospitals and health systems in order to make this improvement activity accessible to the broadest possible array of clinicians and have a stronger impact on the quality of education provided to students and care provided to patients.

PA education programs have experienced difficulty in recent years in securing adequate numbers of clinical training sites. This shortage has significantly limited the capacity of programs to equip students with the necessary training to provide Medicare patients with the best possible care. By providing practices with a new incentive for training students, CMS has recognized the severity of the clinical training site shortage and taken decisive action to alleviate the crisis. By designating this as a high-value improvement activity, CMS has recognized that serving as a preceptor has an important impact on beneficiary care, safety, health, and well-being and exposes learners to high quality, value-based practices that will pay dividends in improved care for their future patients.

I strongly urge CMS to maintain this provision, with the inclusion of hospitals and health systems as eligible preceptor settings, in the final rule and commend the agency for taking this crucial step forward.



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PAEA will submit detailed comments to CMS at the end of the comment period expressing support for the provision, while suggesting that eligible preceptor settings be expanded to hospitals and health systems in addition to community practices in small, underserved, or rural areas. Should CMS maintain the provision and/or accept PAEA’s amended language, clinicians will be eligible to claim practice improvement activity credit for precepting students beginning in calendar year 2018.

Following the conclusion of the comment period on August 21, CMS is expected to issue its final rule for the second year of the QPP in late 2017. PAEA will issue a statement on the outcome of its campaign following the publication of the final rule.