WHA Physician Leaders Council Discusses Vaccine Acceptance, APRN Bill and Kohler Event

June 17, 2021

The WHA Physician Leaders Council met on June 9 and discussed topics including WHA’s physician leader education programming, vaccine acceptance strategies, top challenges facing Wisconsin chief medical officers (CMOs), proposed advanced practice nurse licensure changes and other public policy impacting physicians and clinical practice. 
The meeting was led by WHA Chief Medical Officer Chris Green, MD, and Aspirus Riverview Chief Medical Officer and WHA Physician Leaders Council Chair Tom Voelker, MD.
The Council discussed WHA’s May 26 webinar Strategies to Move the Vaccine Acceptance Needle, including initiatives to promote acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine among hospital staff and members of the community. Council members also discussed steps their organizations are taking to implement evolving Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards.
Dr. Green and WHA Vice President of Education and Marketing Leigh Ann Larson highlighted part-two of the 2021 WHA Physician Leadership Conference coming up on Sept. 14 and 15. As a follow-up to the virtual portion of the program in March, WHA’s premier physician leader-focused event is returning in fall 2021 to the American Club in Kohler as an in-person conference. The in-person program will include Gundersen Health System CEO Scott Rathgaber, MD, who will speak about his leadership journey from clinical physician practice to CEO. 
Dr. Green presented results of a WHA survey of CMOs on the top issues and concerns they are facing. Key issues included provider wellness, resiliency and burnout, recruitment and retention, discharge planning, improving behavioral health care, reducing the burden of the EHR, opioid abuse impacts, quality improvement and telehealth.
Much of the agenda focused on updates and guidance on several areas of WHA public policy advocacy impacting physician leaders. 
WHA General Counsel Matthew Stanford provided a detailed review of current and proposed state and federal law governing advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) practice. Stanford reviewed WHA’s prior advocacy on advanced practice nursing statutes and regulations as well as what has and has not changed since a proposed APRN licensure reform bill was first introduced five years ago by a coalition of APRN associations. 
The Council discussed current utilization and oversight of APRNs at their organizations. The Council also reinforced the importance of preserving hospitals' and clinics’ ability to establish their own quality and oversight requirements for APRNs that are above any minimum professional licensing standard.
The Council also discussed WHA advocacy on regulatory burden issues impacting physician practice. Topics included WHA’s advocacy to create and implement Act 10 licensure reforms to enable out-of-state licensed providers to immediately start practice in Wisconsin, potential follow-up reforms to speed up the licensure process of other physicians such as new medical residents, a draft proposed administrative code Med 10 chaperone rule and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services rulemaking impacting buprenorphine prescribers.
Finally, the Council thanked Tom Voelker for his leadership as the chair of the Physician Leaders Council. Dr. Voelker will be retiring this summer. The next meeting of the WHA Physician Leaders Council will be Sept. 22.

This story originally appeared in the June 17, 2021 edition of WHA Newsletter