Ambulatory Surgery Center Staffing

Ambulatory Surgery Center Staffing

Ambulatory Surgery Center Staffing

ASC personnel is one of the most important aspects of such a facility. When hiring ambulatory surgery center staffing, it is essential to consider candidates who can meet the role’s demands. ASC leaders must know that operating a patient-centric establishment requires careful consideration and suitable preparation. 

Executing a plan that involves multiple staff roles and creating an efficient healthcare facility can be demanding. This post will discuss common ASC staffing problems and offer different strategies and approaches to resolve them.

Staffing Challenges in ASCs

To build a successful ambulatory surgery center (ASC), you must find the right people for the job. Today, skilled employees remain some of the most significant assets to any ASC.

During recent years, The Great Resignation has been one of the biggest threats for ASCs. Together with COVID-19, it brought about a sweeping amount of open vacancies. Consequently, the healthcare industry experienced a great disruption in the labor force.

But things are getting better. The latest 2023 Job Openings and Turnover Survey showed the healthcare sector marked large decreases. Still, we must not ignore the apparent staffing challenges in ASC.

Normally, before moving to action, one must identify the issue and its root cause. Below we will discuss some of the most predominant staffing issues in ASC.

Nursing staff shortage
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Nursing staff shortage 

The overall shortage of healthcare workers led to a nursing shortage in hospitals and ASCs. Competition gets more fierce with the announcements of upcoming registered nurse (RN) resignations.

The 2023 National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) analysis reveals that more than 600,000 RN nurses intend to leave the field by 2027. Larger organizations use several tactics to offer more attractive job opportunities to experienced nurses. These include flexible scheduling, attractive bonuses, part-time opportunities, and other benefits.

For many ASCs, nurse retention grows more difficult by the day. Larger healthcare organizations continue to “steal” their trained nurses with high signup bonuses. Employee expectations are also shifting. While the standard hours of ASC have been an attractive option in the past, this is not the case today.

Hiring efforts have changed drastically; keeping up with these trends is essential. However, keeping pace with hospitals grows more difficult. This is due to most establishments redefining their practice to meet employees halfway.

Overworked personnel

Personnel shortage becomes an even greater burden on remaining ambulatory surgery center staffing. This contributes to burnout and frustration, increasing the risk of more staff fleeing the organization. Working on team satisfaction is crucial in such situations.

You may reduce the burden on your staff by ensuring everyone receives enough break time. Another inexpensive way to manage ACS staff shortages is through employee appreciation. Make your employees feel acknowledged and valued. You may elevate team spirit by setting a formal recognition program.

Financial problems 

The rising cost of retaining qualified staff is another major setback for ASCs in 2023. Many centers don’t have enough staff to respond to today’s needs or to grow their organization. Thus financial problems arise. 

Producing quality work and securing finances for further efforts grows increasingly difficult. This may result in a management crisis and threaten the future of the facility. 

Upcoming retirements 

Higher pay elsewhere and burnout resignation are part of the high employee turnover in healthcare. We mustn’t leave out the nearing-in retirements. A healthcare labor market analysis predicts that by 2026, around 23,000 physicians will leave the workforce. As retirement-eligible staff accelerates, the number of medical students gradually declines.

A report from AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) predicts a shortage of around 120,000 physicians in the US by 2034. This report only goes on to amplify the threat of traditional retirement age within the healthcare sector.

Importance of Optimal Staffing 
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Importance of Optimal Staffing 

The success of your ASC relies on the quality of staff. To offer patients suitable care and ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly, you need to assemble an adequate team. This means filling in the roles with appropriate candidates. Though this can be challenging, optimal staffing will allow you to achieve your goals.

Here are some staffing considerations worthy of your time: 

Proper management 

Finding a fitting candidate for the ASC administrator position is one of the most important decisions you will make. This employee plays one of the major roles in the center. 

The ASC administrator, also called an executive director, oversees the overall operations. This individual is usually tasked with attracting quality personnel, managing profit and loss statements, and negotiating supply contracts. This person oversees clinical matters and has a very active role. 

ASC administrators are crucial in outsourcing talented surgeons. They are also involved in supply management, meaning they have full access to the running finances. 

However, being tangled with a variety of everyday responsibilities can be tiring. This is why it is best to invest in streamlined inventory technology that will allow administrators to perform their duties more efficiently. 

Boosting efficiency 

To achieve maximum efficiency in an ASC center, it is crucial to utilize all ORs. It is best to integrate a vertical schedule to ensure ORs aren’t underutilized. This will ensure you don’t have staff waiting for an operating room to open and losing precious time. 

When speaking of time, you should ensure that your ambulatory surgery center staff is well aware of the importance of punctuality. Hiring personnel that will honor the OR time slot will minimize disruptions in the workflow.

Ensuring your staff is not preoccupied with workflow protocol and that everything is up to regulatory standards should be your priority. To achieve this, you can schedule a consultation with our team and receive a solution customized to your needs. 

Prioritizing patient safety 

One of the main reasons why patients opt for ASCs rather than traditional hospitals is the personalized patient care they receive. ASCs offer a more intimate setting, allowing for more open communication between patients and staff members. This means that the patients expect high-quality care from ACS institutions. 

In ASCs, the staff manages fewer patients both in the preoperative and post-operative stages. The ASC staff is more flexible and able to respond more quickly in the event of a complication.

Since closer patient monitoring is one of the ASCs perks you need to ensure optimal staffing at your disposal. An understaffed ASC will not be able to respond to patient needs and meet client expectations adequately. 

Overstaffing and Understaffing Considerations 

An inexperienced ASC leader can face difficulty when calculating staff numbers. In an attempt to avoid the risks of understaffing, you can easily bring in many staff members. The sections below will discuss the biggest issues related to overstaffing and understaffing in ASCs. 

Understaffing issues 

As the 2022 Retention Report shows, the average employee turnover cost in the US is around $15,000. Better said, this report suggests that losing an employee costs around 33% of their base salary

Losing employees can easily result in understaffing and cause exhaustion among the remaining staff. This can have a significant impact on your revenue. Having too few employees means less patient income.

The recruitment process can be an extensive one, especially when it comes to finding quality staff. The current healthcare staff shortage discussed above will likely negatively impact hiring efforts

A staffing crisis can easily damage the ASC work culture. One study from the National Institute of Health proves employee burnout can increase your staff’s desire to leave work. 

Another study from PubMed sheds light on the importance of healthcare staff retention. The study argues that all healthcare organizations should focus on maintaining qualified personnel, as unsatisfied personnel cannot provide proper patient care.

Importance of Optimal Staffing
Source: Photo Contributor: Guitarfoto

Overstaffing issues 

It’s also important to hire an adequate number of staff. Just as understaffing may damage your revenue, so can overstaffing. Hiring more medical personnel than needed negatively impacts the profitability of ASCs. 

With the rising cost of employee benefits, overstaffing may lead to unnecessarily paying full-time staff when all the roles and responsibilities are already filled. 

To avoid overcrowding an ASC, hiring both full-time and part-time employees is important. This will ensure that the hourly needs of workers are met and will help you run a successful center. 

Staffing Strategies and Solutions 

Meeting clients’ demands while ensuring that your personnel is capable of responding to patient needs requires a set of strategies in place. Managing operations and running a cost-effective ASC requires creative solutions. 

Here are some tactics that should help you achieve your ASC goals: 

Staff cross-training 

An environment that nurtures continuous learning can ensure your personnel have growth opportunities. But, not all employees are willing to expand their skills. This is why hiring staff eligible for cross-training is essential. 

Having a cross-trained staff will ensure you always have the right members at your disposal. The biggest benefit of a cross-trained employee center is flexibility. Remember, part-time and full-time workers must be cross-trained for this strategy to work. 

We recommend placing RNs at the center of your cross-training efforts. These nurses can do almost every job in the center, from running equipment to post-operative assessment. 

To maximize your ambulatory surgery center staffing effectiveness, you must set a creative scheduling model in place. Hiring part-time nurses or temporary staffing for heavier days is crucial.

Effective scheduling 

Investing in digital solutions is another strategy that will help optimize your ASC center’s work. To streamline the scheduling process, you need to set a protocol. 

Different ASCs have different approaches toward scheduling. Some impose a detailed checklist guide leading to the ASC scheduler throughout the process. This can mean including a scheduling calendar for availability on your website and a system that offers all the details about the surgery. 

Some ASCs include regular staff meetings to boost effectiveness and focus on maintaining a healthy relationship between scheduling staff and surgeons. However, this depends on the number of operating rooms your organization manages and the number of your ASC employees. 

To achieve optimal coordination within the center, contacting surgery center consultants and getting a custom solution is best. 

Collaborative Team Approach 

For the majority of working professionals, teamwork can be difficult to master. This might be a direct byproduct of being taught early on that individual achievements are more valuable than collaborative efforts. However, teamwork and collaboration must be in place in ASC to achieve results. 

To introduce teamwork, first, you must begin with a conversation. Bring up the value of collaboration in your meetings and emphasize the need to be a team player. Educate your staff on how to resolve issues as a team. Avoid pointing fingers when something goes wrong as you work on transforming your employees into a collaborative team. 

How to implement teamwork into ASC

Usually, organizations try to introduce teamwork through road trips and after-work gatherings every now and then. These organizations are often confused about why their team spirit didn’t make its way back into the workplace. Instead, try starting small and using small teamwork exercises during weekly meetings to bring teamwork into your ASC. 

Further down the line, you can challenge your staff with a project requiring collaboration to achieve the desired result. Provide them with rules, team standards, and materials beforehand. This will allow them to focus on the project rather than draw their attention to how they are going to function as a team. 

How to implement teamwork into ASC
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The ambulatory surgery center staffing is of key value to the organization. The number of individuals you have at your disposal and their professional qualities will determine how the ASC operates. 

Running an ASC with a staffing shortage will ultimately lead your center to its downfall. Issues such as fewer appointments, loss of revenue, and maybe other personnel can easily damage the center’s functionality. 

Some common ways to address issues such as understaffing include cross-training, effective scheduling, and teamwork. These lay at the core of running an ASC, and putting them into practice can ensure the organization becomes more efficient. 

However, if you don’t have any prior experience in ASC center development and management, it is best to get in touch with an ASC consulting agency.

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