Front Row: Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Executive Director of Health Services Connie Davis, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Medical Director James Stallcup. Back Row: Juanita Chilsom, administrative assistant for health administration; Hastings physicians Martin Jacob, Amanda Whytal, Charity Holder and Dante Perez; nurse practitioner Whitney Essex; and physicians Jazmin Baker, Tschantre Dorsett and Stephen Drywater.
Published September 29, 2017
Salary base increase, first in five years, starts Oct. 1
TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation implements a new compensation plan to better recruit and retain its physicians and advanced practitioners, effective Oct. 1.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s plan raises the threshold pay for about 120 doctors and advanced level providers working within the tribe’s nine health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital to the region’s market rate.
It also includes quarterly bonuses based on service to patients, using a new performance measuring system called Relative Value Units.
The Cherokee Nation has spent more than a year coming up with an effective compensation plan to raise doctor pay, taking input from its employees and neighboring health facilities.
“We want our Cherokee people to have access to the best quality care possible, and we know that starts with our physicians and stability as a key component,” Baker said. “Under this plan, every physician and advanced practitioner will see a raise.”
Across the country, recruiting doctors for rural health care settings has been a challenge, but Cherokee Nation’s turnover rate remains lower than comparable health care systems.
“Ideally, we never want to lose any of our physicians, but we know there are times they leave for larger cities or higher paying jobs just like any other industry, so we hope this move is one that will have a lasting impact,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis. “As we build onto our health system and create new jobs, this compensation plan will have great timing.”
The Cherokee Nation plans to open a new outpatient health facility in 2019 that will create 800 new jobs.
Chief Baker signed the plan Wednesday surrounded by health administrators and physicians. It becomes effective the start of the new fiscal year. Cherokee Nation physicians and advanced practitioners got annual merit lump sum increases but had not had a base salary increase in the past five years.
Funding for the plan was approved by the Tribal Council Executive and Finance Committee on Thursday.
“The Tribal Council was determined to make sure our provider compensation plan recognized our doctors’ dedication to the health care of the Cherokee people,” said Tribal Councilor Keith Austin, co-chair of executive and finance. “This plan has been a joint effort of many people, all committed to providing the best health care possible to the Cherokee people, and I am pleased to support it.”
Under the new compensation plan, there will be a $35,000 increase to the base pay for physicians in primary care.
“The physicians of the Cherokee Nation are proud to serve its citizens, and hopefully this salary incentive will help us recruit more physicians of equal quality and caliber to serve even more Cherokee citizens for years to come,” said Charity Holder, a physician at W. W. Hastings Hospital.