5 leaders' thoughts on staffing challenges in the ASC industry

When it comes to staffing challenges, there's no magic bullet.

Here's what five healthcare leaders had to say about how they're addressing staffing issues in the ASC space and its effect on the industry:

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

George Dickstein, MD. Gastroenterologist at Boston Endoscopy Center and Chair of the Department of Medicine at MetroWest Medical Center (Natick, Mass.): The anesthesia staffing shortages are not easily solved, particularly as reimbursement shrinks in many markets. Many ASCs are swallowing the bitter pill that they now have to supplement anesthesia pay with stipends or guaranteed day rates to keep sufficient staff. Discord between scope of practice among CRNAs and MDs does not help the matter. However, there are major staff shortages even in states where the working relationship between MDs and CRNAs is very good.

Liliana Lehmann. President of Axis HealthCare Partners (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): Efficient and effective staffing has always been essential to the success of the ASC. Leaders need to look for creative ways, besides wage increases, to keep and retain strong talent. ASCs are fighting against hospitals and travel agencies for a very limited pool of candidates. Leaders must realize that a revolving door cannot only be disruptive but extremely costly.

Jackie McLaughlin, RN. Administrator of Northwoods Surgery Center (Woodruff, Wis.): As an ASC leader, I am constantly investing time and money in my team. In my experience, a well-trained, especially cross-trained, team that works cohesively is what makes an ASC successful with patient outcomes, fiscal outcomes and physician satisfaction. With the current healthcare worker shortage plaguing the nation, our team is our most precious commodity for success and growth in ASCs.

Michael Powers. Administrator of Children's West Surgery Center (Knoxville, Tenn.): I think the biggest threat towards ASCs in 2023 is staffing, especially qualified, experienced staffing in all areas of an ASC, including business office, pre-op, OR (both nursing and surgical technicians), post-anesthesia care unit and recovery nurses. In addition, sterile processing technicians. Each of these areas require a certain set of skills that are acquired and honed over time. There is increased competition, and in fact it is hard to compete with large health systems/hospitals. I am also finding that ASCs are competing in the same region against one another for the available staffing pool.

This creates the constant awareness of what it takes to not only be competitive with compensation and benefits, but to align the potential employee's goals to your center's culture and how they can best be happier in your facility. Lastly, this can cause internal morale issues if you hire in staff at equal or higher rates as your long-term employees, so a plan to address compression and communication is key.

Emily Spooner. CEO of South Florida Same Day Surgery Center (Pompano Beach): Smart ASC leaders are prioritizing staff engagement and satisfaction. These leaders recognize that an engaged and motivated staff member is more likely to provide high-quality care and positive patient outcomes. They invest in training and development programs, provide competitive compensation and benefits packages, and foster a culture of teamwork and positive accountability.

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