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Ann Intern Med. 2009 Mar 17;150(6):411-3.

Nursing home physician specialists: a response to the workforce crisis in long-term care.

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  • 1University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 435 East Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14620, USA.


Marginalization of physicians in the nursing home threatens the overall care of increasingly frail nursing home residents who have medically complex illnesses. The authors propose that creating a nursing home medicine specialty, which recognizes the nursing home as a unique practice site, would go a long way toward remedying existing problems with care in skilled nursing facilities and would best serve the needs of the 1.6 million nursing home residents in the United States. Reviewing what is known about physician practice in nursing homes and hospitals, and taking a lead from the hospitalist movement, the specialty would be characterized in 3 dimensions: the degree of physicians' commitment, physicians' practice competencies, and the structure of the medical staff organization in which they practice. Challenges to the adoption of a nursing home specialist model include mainstream medicine's failure to recognize the nursing home as a legitimate medical practice, the need for the nursing home industry and policymakers to appreciate the links between physician practice and quality, and assurance of financial viability. Implications for quality of care, health policy, and research needs are discussed in this article.

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