Interpreting Regs: A Welcome Challenge for Physician with Passion for Advocacy

February 9, 2018


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Being a strong patient advocate is a passion that Victoria Walker, MD, CMD, has long held as a cornerstone of her career. It led her to become a policy expert, and now she is sharing her expertise and knowledge with others. Thanks to her leadership as Chair of the Clinical Issues Committee, which worked to trudge through the 400-plus pages of the recently revised Federal nursing facility regulations, you won’t have to. They have done it for you. The result is the updated the “Synopsis of Federal Regulations in the Nursing Facility: Implications for Attending Physicians and Medical Directors.”

“There is so much in the regulations that is important for physicians and other practitioners to understand, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to pour over and digest hundreds of pages,” says Dr. Walker. She and her colleagues have done this work so that you don’t have to. The Synopsis is an indispensable resource that contains summary charts outlining clinical requirements and interpretive guidelines for surveyors and updates on new F-tags and other information. It is available electronically and is viewable from your PC, tablet, and smartphone through your Society membership account.

“The synopsis is a valuable tool for all practitioners. Anyone providing medical care and/or oversight in this setting needs to understand what the regs say and their impact on the work they do,” says Dr. Walker. She adds, “This knowledge is powerful. It allows you to advocate for patients in language that resonates with leaders in the post-acute and long-term care setting, who are very much focused on regulatory adherence. If you can speak to them in that language when you advocate for your patients, it can be tremendously impactful.”

Dr. Walker’s passion for policy started early in her career when she was working as a medical director and attending physician for geropsychiatric unit at a state hospital in South Dakota. “I became aware of the impact state legislation and policy had on people’s access to care and the quality of care they received; and I wanted to learn more so that I could be a more effective patient advocate.” She heard about a national Health and Aging Policy Fellowship, designed to provide health and aging professionals with the experience and skills needed to help lead this effort; and she knew that program was for her. The experience gave her the skills and knowledge she needed about policy issues; and it fueled her passion to put this to work as a practitioner and advocate.

About that same time, Dr. Walker also discovered the Society. “I was looking to become better educated about how to do my job as medical director, and a colleague suggested I look at the Society. I knew immediately it was the right organization for me, and that’s how I got involved.” She completed the Core Curriculum, became a Certified Medical Director, and got increasingly involved in the organization. She became a member of the Public Policy Committee and then Chair of the Clinical Issues Subcommittee, which took on the task of updating the Federal Synopsis.

Working on the update was a challenging but satisfying experience for Dr. Walker. “You learn so much when you get involved on projects such as this. It is a great way to develop expertise on an issue and hone your skills and knowledge.” She notes, “Hopefully, we have saved our members a lot of time and energy by reading and summarizing the regulations for them. This document will help them understand, for example, how their notes and documentation need to reflect a person-centered approach to care.” She adds, “I hope it will empower our members to have an authoritative resource and be effective advocates for their patients.”

Click here to order your copy of the synopsis today.