Matthew Meyer, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, spoke with Becker's to discuss how ASCs can leverage their unique positions to recruit anesthesia staff.
Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Question: As many ASC administrators battle staffing issues, how can leaders cultivate sustainable staffing practices at their centers?
Dr. Matthew Meyer: I think the most important thing for an ambulatory surgery center to get anesthesiologists to be there is to really lean in to what makes an ambulatory surgery center unique. And there's a lot. I think when we talk about the alternative, which is working in a larger hospital, there's things that make people want to work in an ambulatory surgery center.
I'd say focus in on the schedule, focus in on the patient population, focus in on the small team. Really elevate these concepts and put them right out there in the marketing. All MD anesthesiologists are being trained essentially in large practices, right? They're in large health systems. That's where you have residency programs. It's pretty rare for them to be trained in an ambulatory surgery center only; I don't even think that exists. So for many people, it's almost novel to be exposed to an ambulatory surgery center. Their thought of what their practice of medicine is gonna be as they went through medical school and through residency is, "I'm going to be in a similar situation as to which I trained in."
I don't think a lot of people, and I include myself in that, really appreciate the opportunities that there are in ambulatory surgery centers. Whether it's the fact that you don't have call, your case is finished usually around five o'clock, the patient population is relatively healthy and it's a small team of surgeons that generally work there. You get to know your partners really well — surgeons, nurses, the people who clean the rooms — it's a small team. I think there's a lot to like about that from a lifestyle perspective and a career perspective, and I think that that needs to really be put out there. I don't think it goes without saying. I don't think people know all of that.
So my advice is to really both market that to people, but also really mean it when you're doing that. Make sure that you're creating an ambulatory surgery center that takes advantage of all the good things an ambulatory surgery center can be.