Consilium Cares Kicks off ‘Season of Giving’ at Local Parade

UPDATE: The Children’s Health Holiday Parade has officially been canceled due to the threat of inclement weather. 

Mark your calendars: on December 3, Consilium team members will once again take part in the annual Children’s Health Holiday Parade, one of the largest parades in America. The parade, now in its 29th consecutive year, will step off on Commerce Street at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the streets of downtown Dallas.Fun Fact

Consilium team members will volunteer in several roles throughout the parade, including as banner carriers, merchandisers, and even a clown or two. We could not be more excited to again take part in this historic event, which provides free holiday fun for local families and strengthens the Children’s Health System and its ability to care for Texas children. In addition, the event provides a truly unforgettable experience for some of the hospital’s pediatric patients.

This year, 25 special Children’s Health patients were selected by medical staff to experience the magic of the parade from atop some of this year’s coolest floats. The children, who range in age from 5-16, are all residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth area; make sure to wave as they go by!

Consilium Cares, the company philanthropy program, is dedicated to fulfilling the company mission of strengthening local communities. Through the initiative, Consilium team members have volunteered at local charities that include the North Texas Food Bank and Carter BloodCare as well as participating in events like the Salvation Army Angel Tree program and the “Christmas is for Children” Radiothon.

For more information about the Children’s Health Holiday Parade, which is sponsored by the Children’s Health System of Texas, visit the official parade website.

Click here to view the parade route.

How Nurse Practitioners Close Gaps in Healthcare Access

Happy Nurse Practitioner Week! An NP’s job certainly is challenging, there’s no disputing that. In honor of you and the impact you make every day (even when it isn’t easy!), let’s revisit some of the ways NPs are uniquely making a difference in the healthcare community.

In the 51 years since the nurse practitioner occupation was first established in the United States, there have been numerous monumental changes to the structure and function of the American healthcare system, including the advent of the locum tenens industry. In the midst of such upheavals, however, nurse practitioners have provided a constant in the form of versatile, high-quality, person-centered care across healthcare settings. Due to the existing physician shortage—which will likely grow to more than 130,000 by the year 2025, per the Association of American Medical Colleges —nurse practitioners will soon take on an even larger role in meeting healthcare needs. In celebration of NP Week, here’s a look at how nurse practitioners are already working to fill existing gaps in quality healthcare access…and why contract work might be a better fit than you think.

Providing Quality Care Across the Board

In many ways, NPs could be considered healthcare’s proverbial Jills (and Jacks) of All Trades. Nurse practitioners consistently remain some of the most requested locum tenens professionals, and for good reason: NPs do it all! Though an exhaustive list of nurse practitioners’ contributions and accolades is beyond the scope of this—or any—blog, some of NPs’ most valued capabilities include the ability to:

  • Prescribe medicine, including controlled substances, in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
  • Provide primary, acute, and specialty care services.
  • Deliver important health education: NPs provide information geared toward health promotion and disease prevention, encouraging patients to proactively take charge of their health.
  • Provide counseling services.
  • Order, interpret, and explain diagnostic tests.
  • Help patients fill out sensitive end-of-life directives: Out of the 19 states that utilize Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms, 16 now allow nurse practitioners to oversee the process. [1]

Not only do NPs embrace a variety of medical responsibilities in diverse settings, they also tend to do so quite well: research demonstrates that employing nurse practitioners in emergency service settings has a positive impact on quality of care, wait times, and patient satisfaction. [2]

Person-Centered Care: Treating Patients as Individuals

Often, patients can expect that a visit to the doctor will involve a focus on treating their specific presenting maladies. While this is valuable and necessary, a disease-focused approach on its own can neglect key causal factors. Because nurse practitioners subscribe to a person-centered model of healthcare that emphasizes the overall well-being of each individual, they treat medical complaints while also helping patients determine steps they can take to improve their physical and emotional health. Healthcare professionals who embrace person-centered models of care often take special care to:

  • Consider patients’ wants, preferences, and expressed values when recommending treatment.
  • Provide culturally-competent services for each individual by taking into account factors like patient age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic situation.
  • Incorporate a patient’s support network, such as family and friends, when appropriate.
  • Ensure that patients feel safe, comfortable, heard, respected, and empowered.

Helping Those Who Need it Most: Serving Underprivileged Communities

Nurse practitioners provide care for underserved populations at very high rates: 72% of nurse practitioners accept Medicare, 78% accept Medicaid, and 77% treat uninsured patients (2016 AANP National Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey).  The provision of culturally-appropriate health education, while important for everyone, can be especially impactful for patients from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds and other traditionally underserved communities. Person-centered approaches to medical care can be especially life-changing for these patients, who often have less access to health information, fewer available medical resources, and less interaction with providers who understand their unique challenges and appreciate the significant impact of patient identity on health, wellness, and appropriate treatment approaches.

How Does Locum Tenens Work for Nurse Practitioners?

The increasing need for medical professionals across the country creates opportunities for nurse practitioners to provide valuable healthcare services in a wider variety of settings than would be available in traditional practice settings. Additionally, working on a locums basis allows more flexibility for NPs to construct a schedule consistent with their ideal work-life balance. Contract work may be a welcome change for nurse practitioners in all career stages who are experiencing any number of personal situations, such as:

  • NPs who recently finished school and are not yet sure where or in what practice setting they would like to work long-term—Locums allows NPs to “test-drive” different geographic locations and types of facilities, so you can be sure you have found the best fit.
  • NPs later in their careers who want to work less but are unready to fully retire —Locum tenens positions can provide a smooth transition into semi-retirement, allowing you to continue working with patients while leaving time to go on long-awaited trips, prioritize family time, or take up a hobby (like that one you‘ve been neglecting since second semester of nursing school).
  • NPs at any career stage who would like to travel but do not want to stop practicing medicine.
  • NPs facing burnout due to the high-stress nature of the job—Making even a temporary switch to locum tenens work can provide a much-needed reprieve for nurse practitioners experiencing burnout symptoms.

Locum tenens also can be a logical choice for nurse practitioners who:

  • Just moved to a different region of the country and are unfamiliar with facilities in the area.
  • Recently started a family (or plan to) and want to achieve a certain balance of time at work and time at home.
  • Share or alternate childcare duties or caretaking responsibilities for a family member with a long-term illness or disability.
  • Want to build savings for a specific goal—such as a new house, a large investment or business endeavor, or retirement—and want to pick up extra shifts for an understaffed local facility.

Thank you to all of our compassionate, hard-working locum tenens nurse practitioners, on behalf of everyone here at Consilium. We appreciate your dedication and recognize the impact you make in patients’ lives every day. Happy NP Week!

[1] Hayes Sophia A., Zive Dana, Ferrell Betty, and Tolle Susan W., Journal of Palliative Medicine. October 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/jpm.2016.0228.

[2] Jennings, N., Clifford, S., Fox, A. R., O’Connell, J., & Gardner, G. (2015). The impact of nurse practitioner services on cost, quality of care, satisfaction and waiting times in the emergency department: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(1), 421-435. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2014.07.006

Thank Veterans by Supporting Their Transition to Civilian Life

On November 11th each year, we take time to honor the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. Often after completing their service agreements, military veterans—especially those with combat experience—face difficulties readjusting to the flow of civilian life. Despite these complications, veterans bring with them an array of skills and perspectives that can be huge assets in the workplace. To commemorate Veterans Day, we would like to highlight one of our own— a combat veteran and current member of the Army Reserves—who provided us with insight into the significance and impact of Veterans Day and discussed ways companies can better support their veteran employees, especially those still struggling to assimilate into civilian corporate culture.

PhilipPhillip has served in the United States Army for 15 years, 12 of which were active duty, and completed four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. At Consilium, Phillip works to place medical providers in understaffed government-operated facilities—including veterans hospitals and on-base medical treatment facilities—as an account manager in our Government Services division. Aside from hitting key performance marks early on, his drive, commitment to working for the betterment of the team, and in-depth understanding of the nature of government processes have been huge contributions to Consilium (and he makes a pretty mean red bean chili, too).

What does Veterans Day mean to you, having served long-term and in conflict situations?

Veterans Day is a time to reflect on combat veterans’ sacrifices—and believe me, they were sacrifices in every sense of the word. For me, and I think for many of us, the week leading up to Veterans Day can be a complicated time. I am proud of my decision to serve this country and it is important to me that every time I put on that uniform, I represent to others what a soldier is and should be. I strive to live in such a way as to honor the memory of those who were lost in the line of duty. At the same time, this week can take a very sad tone for veterans as we remember men and women who were severely injured or who made the ultimate sacrifice while we served together.

What can companies do on Veterans Day—and every day—to better support employees who served in combat?

Get to know who we are as people; speak to us individually to gauge our needs and find out how we would like to spend Veterans Day. If given the flexibility to be out of the office that day, for example, many of us would take that opportunity to go speak at schools, participate in parades, pay our respects at gravesites of fallen comrades and/or visit their families, or simply to spend time with other veterans, especially those who are struggling.

On a year-round basis, companies can help their veteran employees by working to understand the challenges that come with assimilating back into a civilian environment. There are times we may not react the same way a civilian would because a certain process is different or nonexistent in the military—even a seemingly simple situation like a routine performance review meeting—and it is stressful feeling as though you may not be reacting appropriately and worrying that you might be making people uncomfortable. While we do not want anybody to purposely treat us differently than anyone else, it would go a long way for people to remember that at the end of the day…we are not like everybody else. We gladly carry burdens that most people cannot even imagine, but sometimes that takes its toll. Don’t feel like you need to tiptoe around us, but do be aware that some days are harder for us than others even if it isn’t obvious why. Know that our method for handling situations when we don’t know how to react may be to simply stay quiet until we have figured out how best to respond.

In what ways is military service facilitative of success in the (civilian) workplace?

When you hire a veteran, you are going to get a worker with a very specific and refined set of skills. The military teaches you to be highly organized and driven, to be both an effective leader and an operative follower, and to interact with and respect people from a range of backgrounds. Personally, I have gained a big appreciation for diverse viewpoints, skills, and experiences. To effectively unlock the skills of a veteran who works for your company, you really have to get to know that person as an individual, learn about his or her military duties and experiences in detail, and then learn to play to those specific strengths. We are hard workers and we are performance-oriented, but to provide us with avenues for success you have to learn where we really excel and which tasks may feel a bit like uncharted waters.

What is one thing that companies should know about combat veterans and the overall assimilation process so that they can best support veteran employees?

We are protectors by nature. Most combat veterans would pretty much do anything asked of them if it would help someone else: we want to be that guy people trust in a crisis situation. With that mindset, however, is the reality that our role in protecting the people of this country means that—because we have different experiences—it can be difficult relearning how to act in civilian settings, particularly in the corporate world.

Understand that in our minds, we will never again be who we were when we were serving, so to speak. We are no longer facing life or death situations every day because in office settings people don’t usually need saving, which used to be our guiding purpose. Transitioning to the civilian world requires a complete change in identity, and that’s a difficult process. Sometimes it can feel like we have already done the most important things we’ll ever do in life, and being around people who genuinely care about you and are excited about what we do together every day can help keep that feeling in check.

How has your work at Consilium fit into that picture?

I have worked elsewhere in the industry, and I can attest to the fact that this company is different. Even though we work in a competitive, performance-based environment, I have never felt as though we are being pitted one against the other and that is important to me. I value the ability to work as a cohesive team, and it feels like the company itself is a large team. I also think that part of the difference in environment may come from the fact that this is a faith-based company at its core. Even if people don’t always discuss their beliefs outright, it is clear from how they treat one another here that there is a set of shared values that people truly buy into and try to live each day.

What does your work in the Government division mean to you?

I know firsthand how important it is to find good medical providers to work with current and former members of the military. This is simplistic, but anything we can to do to help, helps. Personally, I pay close attention to finding medical providers with a true passion for working with veterans, who truly care about us and what we need. These are the people who see their work as a life mission. If I had to choose between the two, I would place the doctor who truly cares for veterans and charges a little extra versus a physician who would net our company a larger profit but who does not have a genuine heart for working with combat veterans. Consilium gives me a way to give back, even when I’m not in uniform.