Shaking Up Clinical Education
Wisconsin native Katrina Anderson hasn’t been through medical school, but she’s seen firsthand how grueling the process can be, especially when it comes to clinical rotations.
Before launching her own company in 2016, she worked in HealthPartner’s central education department, where she helped place medical students into rotations.
“I heard so many different clinicians, clinical operations leaders, and students talk about what I call a ‘silent bottleneck,’” says Anderson, who earned an MBA from University of St. Thomas. “There was no centralized administrative process for rotations, and it became very evident that it was a very cumbersome process. Clinical sites couldn’t focus on education or patient care as much as they wanted to.”
Now, Anderson spends most of her time trying to make life easier for clinicians and students. Three years ago, she partnered with two developers to launch a platform aimed at streamlining the clinical rotation process for both students and hospitals. They dubbed the venture ClinicianNexus.
The platform helps match medical students to clinical rotation sites. Anderson says it’s open to med students, nursing school students, and even physician assistants in training. The goal is to centralize the clinical rotation process for clinicians of every stripe.
Anderson, 29, has big plans for her Minneapolis-based company. In May, ClinicianNexus announced a new partnership with PreCheck, which provides health care-specific background checks. PreCheck’s technology is used in about half of all hospitals in the U.S.
ClinicianNexus also has been accepted into the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator program, a three-month program that provides funding and mentorship for health-focused startups. Anderson will be out in Los Angeles for the summer to complete the program.
TCB recently caught up with Anderson to hear more about her goals for the startup.
You’ve compared your company to Airbnb for clinical rotations. What do you mean by that?
We support the connection between hospitals and schools by offering a single platform. We liken it to Airbnb because we help the hospitals carve out their capacity to teach, and the students use the same tool to schedule, onboard, and go through that system all in one location. And it’s not necessarily a social network, but everyone has a profile, so it helps clinicians get connected to each other and students.
How long have you been running this company?
We just celebrated our third birthday, and we incorporated on May 4. (I like to celebrate via Star Wars.) In 2017, we beta tested the platform with one hospital and its affiliated medical and nursing schools in Moreno Valley, California. The hospital system is Riverside University Health System.
In 2018, we were able to validate our product at scale through a relationship with the largest for-profit healthcare system in the country. That put us in 48 of their hospitals spanning 11 states. Now, our product is used in 57 hospitals, with over 100 schools, and they’ve got 9,000 students using it today.
Sounds like the company has grown quite a bit since it started. What’s next?
We are huge believers in supporting our clinician workforce in any way that we can — any way we can humanize the rotation process for them. Medical education is one of the top five contributing factors to burnout in clinicians. Some clinicians will say they learned to burn out because that’s what they were trained to do in medical school. We also want to support clinicians connecting together, not just medical students over here, nursing students over here, PA students over there. We want to support the entire care team.
Why are clinicians getting burned out so quickly? And what are the consequences?
A lot of people attribute it to having too much to enter into electronic health records, or medical workers just getting exhausted from caring for too many people with too little resources and too little time. Our clinicians are kind of getting to the end of their rope, and there’s a shortage of them. But I think we have a new generation of people becoming clinicians — people growing up in a culture that encourages self care. I think that really conflicts with messages in clinical training. So we’re looking into how we can redesign that system and give a little more control, power, and choice to students in clinical rotations, and also help make sure they make the right matches.
So how does your platform help reduce burnout?
We really hope to be a company that’s a caregiver of caregivers. That means supporting students and future clinicians. We don’t necessarily want to say we’re just a clinical education management software company. We want to support the people behind clinical education, and augment the community behind it. I don’t think this space gets a lot of credit or attention in healthcare, and it’s one of those things that we strongly believe is a catalyst for change in our healthcare outcomes. We believe improving clinician education has a direct benefit and impact on clinical outcomes for their patients. And more than likely, it would reduce costs. That’s what we’re on our way to prove.