Healthcare providers can choose from a variety of practice settings, such as hospitals, private practices or specialty clinics. One setting to consider is the Federally Qualified Health Center, also known as a community health center. Though there certainly are challenges working in such an environment, there definitely are plenty of benefits as well.
What Is a Federally Qualified Health Center? Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHCs, are non-profit, primary care health clinics that receive federal funds to provide services in underserved communities. Federal regulations and regular oversight require FQHCs provide culturally appropriate, high-quality healthcare to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance coverage. These community health centers often integrate primary medical care with pharmacy, optical, mental health, oral health and substance abuse services. FQHCs are located throughout the United States, with more than 1,400 health centers operating more than 10,400 sites. In 2016, nearly 26 million patients were seen in community health clinics, which employed around 190,000 people. Benefits of FQHC Employment There are several benefits to working for FQHCs; some are tangible and others more abstract. Work/Life Balance FQHCs help staff achieve a better work/life balance by offering:
Minimal staff management responsibility
Limited after-hours calls
Paid vacations, paid sick time and paid holidays
More regular work hours in a set schedule of 40 hours or less
Financial Perks Healthcare providers at FQHCs usually are provided:
License and DEA registration reimbursement
Malpractice benefits through the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) program
Continuing education reimbursement
Life insurance, disability insurance and retirement plan contributions
Student loan repayment packages, depending on the specialty, location and the length of commitment
Helping Underserved Communities The majority of FQHC patients earn incomes below the federal poverty line and have public benefits such as Medicaid or are uninsured. These patients are those least likely to have received regular preventive care or treatment for any chronic conditions, and they are more likely to experience barriers to receiving healthcare. By working for a community health clinic, you would be providing healthcare to patients most in need of services. Increased Skills Providers at FQHCs have the opportunity to treat a wide range of diseases at all stages. Community health center patients are more likely to experience chronic conditions that have been untreated and more likely to present with acute needs. Because FQHCs typically experience difficulty in obtaining specialty referrals for its underinsured or uninsured patients, practitioners treat more conditions themselves than they would at a private practice or hospital. Working in a community health clinic also gives you an opportunity to hone your skills to work quickly with high patient volume while maintaining high quality. Exposure to Different Care Delivery Methods FQHCs increasingly are embracing the patient-centered medical home and integrated care models of care, both of which focus on the patient’s whole health. These models involve close collaboration with other providers and support staff across disciplines. These care delivery models are increasingly popular, and having experience working in such collaborative environments can open up more career opportunities. This article was originally published by Adaptive Medical Partners.