Ambulatory surgery center administrators frequently attribute a large part of their center's success to its staff. Knowing that choosing the correct staff can help make or break an ASC, it is crucial to know how to find those people that will make the best possible team. Maggie Summerfelt, administrator of Advanced Surgery Center in Omaha, Neb., shares six things ASC administrators should do when searching for staff members.
1. Look for people that will fit in with the environment of your center. Though each member of an ASC's staff has individual responsibilities, the true value of a great staff is their ability to function as a team. Members of a high-functioning team will have the ability to work towards common goals effectively and efficiently. To find individuals that fit this description, you should search for people that will fit well with the overall environment and culture of your surgery center. "I look for self-confidence, flexibility, a passion for caring for others and an eagerness to learn new ideas and skills," says Ms. Summerfelt.
2. Involve multiple people in the interview process. Each member of an ASC staff interacts with multiple people during the course of the day: other staff members, physicians, patients and the administrator. It is important what the people already working in the ASC think of a potential new hire. "I like to screen candidates myself, but then get others involved in choosing the right candidate that will fit with our team and make our team better," says Ms. Summerfelt. "Get the opinions of the staff and physicians. Make sure they are a good fit with the physicians and staff."
3. Be upfront about your expectations. Employers expect honesty from potential employees during an interview. Employers should extend the same courtesy. Be straightforward about what you expect from your staff. The better understanding potential employees have of the position, the easier to tell if they will be a good fit at the surgery center.
During the interview, explain the demanding aspects of the job, as well as the perks.
"I always want someone interviewing with us to understand that we are not an 8:00 am to 5:00 pm kind of facility, that we offer a great deal of flexibility in hours and days and encourage staff to enjoy that – one day they may have a very short lunch and the next might be able to take an hour lunch outside the facility. If you can take advantage of less busy days to get personal things done then the staff are more willing to put in the longer days," says Ms. Summerfelt.
4. Ask the right questions. It can be difficult to determine whether or not someone is a good fit from a brief, formal conversation such as an interview. It is important to select the most effective questions, questions that will allow you to gain an accurate picture of what that person would be like as an employee. "Some candidates are professional interviewers. Try to ask questions they may not be prepared to answer," says Ms. Summerfelt. "Give them a difficult situation that has occurred at your facility and see how they might handle it. Do they handle confrontation well? Do they love people and want the best for them?"
5. Never select the first candidate available. Time is extremely valuable at a surgery center. It may be tempting to hire the first acceptable candidate to fill a needed position, but this is a mistake. "Go through the process of interviewing several candidates and comparing them to each other," says Ms. Summerfelt. Rushing the process can lead to choosing the wrong person, which in the long term will be more costly and time consuming than going through the process correctly the first time.
6. Always understand the value of a good staff. Understanding the importance of a good staff is the best way to make sure you slow down and take the time to find the right people for your center. "It is not only costly to lose staff and hire new staff, it is also very disruptive to your facility. It takes time and effort to build a team. The goal is continuing to grow strong and better," says Ms. Summerfelt. New hires should be chosen based on the value and strength they have to add to the center's whole staff.