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Building an Ideal Relationship with Your APP

June 2, 2021

Adam Lueken


Advanced practice providers (APPs), including physician assistants and nurse practitioners, can have a valuable impact on your practice – financially, with work balance and with patient satisfaction.

APPs are licensed medical providers that practice medicine under the collaboration of doctors. From patient education to treating of skin issues and cosmetic procedures, APPs are important members of a healthcare team. APPs have collaborated with dermatologists since the 1970s, helping with patient exams and diagnosing, along with the development and implementation of treatment plans including prescribing medications, ordering and interpreting lab tests and surgical management of a wide variety of dermatologic diseases. If you currently partner with an APP(s) or are considering it – as an impactful member of your team, it’s important to build strong working relationships with an APP as you would another partner dermatologist or member of your medical team.

A long-term dermatologist-APP relationship can mean stronger patient relationships. Like any other doctor, APPs can build strong patient followings that help your team provide quality care and maximize productivity. They can also help alleviate schedule demands, so you have more work/life balance. The strongest and most productive dermatologist-APP relationships are built on collaboration, so here are a few traits that will help build and maintain strong collaboration.

Be a Mentor

As a board-certified dermatologist, you have a wealth of knowledge that APPs can benefit from. Share what you’ve learned in your experiences in patient care, communication and team/practice management. Preferably, when hiring an APP, they’ll have the opportunity to initially observe and learn directly from the way in which you practice. Over time, you and the APP can collectively decide how patients will be scheduled with the APP and what type of cases they will see. As time passes, the APP can take on more and increase their knowledge and skills.

Keep an open-door policy too. You want your APP to feel comfortable coming to you with any medical questions. Otherwise, you won’t have a strong level of trust and even worse, the quality and timeliness of patient care can be affected. No matter how well trained an APP is, they should still know you’re always there to back them up. They should also feel comfortable coming to you about problems with team members or personal problems outside the office. Not only will this show the APP that you care about them as a person, but it will help ensure you’re aware of upcoming changes to their schedule or behavior that will impact the practice and care of patients.

Be Respectful and Professional

This may reiterate some of the points discussed above, but it bears repeating. Building a sense of professional respect and trust with your APP is essential. When it comes to continuing education, help ensure your APP(s) has the appropriate time and access to continuing education opportunities. You want them to be as knowledgeable and up-to-date as possible. By supporting them in this, they’ll know you highly value medical education and knowledge, and could be more motivated to explore these opportunities.

As part of an APP’s benefits package, practices will often cover their professional dues for professional organizations. Fortunately, APP dues tend to be low compared to what doctors pay. APPs joining professional organizations can help ensure they are alerted to changes in practice regulations, changes in their state scope of practice and educational opportunities. For a dermatology APP, these organizations generally include the AAPA, the SDPA and the state organization, as well as state dermatological societies if allowed.

Be Appreciative

If you’re considering fair compensation for an APP, there are different models of compensation based on office dynamics, experience and type of practice. Information on this subject is available from the Society of Dermatology PAs and the American Academy of PAs. But beyond benefits and compensation, everyone wants to be appreciated in what they do – APPs included. Even just a “thank you” every now and then or quick recognition of patient care successes can mean a lot.

Need some extra assistance bringing on a new APP? We’re always a phone call or click away to support your needs. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today!



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