Department of Medicine and Department of Emergency Medicine APPs launch successful critical care partnership
In January 2021—in the teeth of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nationwide surges in critically ill patients and uncertain staffing in emergency and critical care hospital units—a group of advanced practice providers (APPs) from UW Department of Medicine (DOM) and the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) embarked on a new partnership.
Their goal was to build and train an APP team with dedicated training in critical care medicine to expand coverage of the medical intensive care unit (MICU) at UW Health’s University Hospital.
“Since several of [the emergency department APP] team had already completed Critical Care training, I had a feeling we would be just the group to help,” says Jenna Brink, PA, and APP supervisor for the DEM. Brink spearheaded the creation of this new cohort with her Department of Medicine counterpart, Amy Chybowski, APNP, APP supervisor for the DOM Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine.
The pressure of the pandemic meant time to train and organize was limited, but the teams met that challenge with dedication and collaboration.
“Our [emergency department] teams spent the summer of 2021 brushing up on all of their critical care skills,” says Chybowski. “Before we knew it, it was September 2021, and our project went live.”
Once the training was complete, five emergency medicine APPs took on dual emergency medicine-critical care roles as part of a multidisciplinary health care team in the MICU.
“The Trauma and Life Support Center (TLC) nurses, social work, nurse communicators, fellows and faculty were amazing with taking time to teach us the nuances that come along with inpatient medicine,” says Brink. “While changes like this aren’t always easy, we have learned that this unique relationship between the [emergency department] and MICU APP groups has many benefits which we envision growing into the future.”
The collaborative model has proven to be such a success that the APP partnership is now expanding to the intensive care unit at UnityPoint Health–Meriter Hospital, which is affiliated with UW Health and the University of Wisconsin.
“This [is an] important story of APP scope of practice and clinical program development,” says Chybowski. “It’s amazing what collaboration can accomplish.”
The Critical Care Partnership at UW Health has included the following advanced practice providers:
From the Department of Medicine:
- Amy Chybowski, APNP
- Janyne Bolliger, PA-C
- Cheyenne Heidenreich, NP
- Courtney Hoy, APNP
- Matthew Kempfer, NP
- Courtney Maurer, DNP
- Corey Smith, NP
- Jonathan Thayer, APRN
- Joey Thims, NP
From the Department of Emergency Medicine:
- Jenna Brink, PA-C
- Michael Horowitz, PA-C
- Jesse Jamieson, PA-C
- Sarah Liegl, PA-C
- Krista Morin, PA-C
Banner, from left: Jenna Brink, PA, Critical Care Medicine, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine; Amy Chybowski, APNP, Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care, Department of Medicine. Credit: Treena Fischer/BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine.