A job for the thicker skinned — 5 tools to be a successful administrator

Having been an administrator for a decade, Kathy Abiri, RN, MS, CASC, understands the challenges associated with the position, as well as the tools necessary to be successful. She has been an administrator at the Bayside Endoscopy Center in Providence as well as the East Bay Endoscopy Center in Portsmouth for a little more than 10.5 years. As a nurse administrator with a critical care clinical and management background, her staff and physicians trust her judgment, a necessity for any successful work environment.

An administrator must work with numerous physicians and other staff members who may have very different, sometimes conflicting, personalities. Top administrators are able to find a balance in order to work with the different personalities to achieve excellent patient outcomes.

Here are five key tools for success:

1. Staying ahead of the game. Leading administrators are not only aware of the current trends, but also predict the upcoming trends in the healthcare industry relevant to their centers. "Administrators should know what is coming down the pipeline," says Ms. Abiri. "You need to know the expectations and goals of the center's partners."

2. Understand the many personalities at play. As with most organizations, ASCs have many different stakeholders with many different personalities. Part of an administrator's role is understanding the various personalities and working with them to create a successful center that does not get bogged down with conflict when tough choices have to be made. "Sometimes you have to have a thick skin," explains Ms. Abiri. "I deal with about 14 to 15 physicians who all have a different personality and different expectations. You need to know each person individually to better understand expectations."

3. Transparency is necessary. In her career, Ms. Abiri found physicians and staff are receptive to her direct management style. When a physician asks Ms. Abiri a question, she will give them a direct answer, rather than curtailing around the truth. "You should be clear and consistent with both your physicians and staff," says Ms. Abiri. "Everyone appreciates those qualities."

4. Follow-through. An administrator often has several tasks to accomplish in a day, making time a valuable resource. However, successful administrators always follow through with tasks. "If physicians ask you to do a project or other task like price comparisons for equipment, it is key to follow through," says Ms. Abiri. "My physicians and staff know if they ask me something, I will do everything to get that information to them."

5. Finding the right staff. Physicians have high expectations of knowledge and experience within their staff. If a physician is fast-paced, he/she will likely want fast-paced nurses working alongside them. Part of Ms. Abiri's role as an administrator entails finding nurses who can meet physicians' expectations. Rather than assigning the same nurses to the same physicians day in day out, Ms. Abiri strikes a balancing act and rotates the schedule to maintain equity in her practice to provide quality care to all of the center’s patients.

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