Hiring effectively in a competitive marketplace — How this Wisconsin ASC administrator finds viable candidates

An ASC's long-term success is often contingent on the practice's ability to recruit and maintain dedicated staff members. However, surgery centers may face a dearth of viable candidates or may struggle to fully gauge if a candidate would fit well with a surgery center's culture. Becky Ziegler-Otis, administrator of Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point (Wis.), says hiring has been difficult, at times, due to competing facilities within the region.

"As an independent surgical center, we compete with three healthcare systems as well as a variety of physician offices for our employee market; thus there is a limited pool of candidates within our community," she says. Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point is continuously seeking staff registered nurses to help with the ASC's joint replacement patients and volume fluctuations. The Wisconsin-based ASC has also been eyeing surgical technicians as employees in these positions are nearing retirement.

Finding suitable candidates
With competing organizations vying for a select number of candidates, the surgery center has relied on creativity to bring new blood into the center.

"Hiring has been somewhat of a challenge, but we have found that by being creative and focusing our recruitment efforts on the open position, we have been able to hire qualified candidates," Ms. Ziegler-Otis says.

Some resources the ASC has used to find such candidates include:
•    Word-of-mouth referrals
•    Using Indeed.com
•    Placing an advertisement on the ASC's website
•    Using the adjacent orthopedic clinic's Facebook page to post an advertisement
•    Utilizing a temporary agency
•    Contacting local colleges and advertising through their systems

An ASC's existing surgeons and other staff members can also use their personal relationships to generate interest about a particular job.

Conducting interviews
After identifying a potential candidate, an Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point team member conducts a phone interview and then will advance that person to an in-person interview, if applicable. During the in-person interview, the candidate will meet with staff members who would work closely with the new hire to ensure he or she would develop a strong working relationship with current staff.  

"Another strategy has been to have the candidate participate in an interview where they observe individuals working in the role. This gives both of us the opportunity to determine a potential fit from a qualification as well as culture perspective," Ms. Ziegler-Otis adds.

When assessing if a candidate would thrive within the ASC's culture, Ms. Ziegler-Otis has a go-to question: 'What are you looking for in a position as far as culture and management?' The candidate's answer can provide a snapshot into what they value in an organization. The interviewee's answer also will provide insight into whether he/she would do well within the dynamic of a small company, or if that individual would be better-suited for a large company. "[The question] helps me determine subsequent questions to ascertain if the candidate is a fit for the center," Ms. Ziegler-Otis says.

In the hiring process, patience is key. Although ASC leaders may be tempted to fill a position quickly, this could lead to a host of issues, such as an unsuitable cultural fit.

"Don't rush your decision," Ms. Ziegler-Otis says. "If you are not finding the right candidate, think creatively on other ways you may be able to recruit the ideal candidate; one who synergizes well with the existing team."

Ms. Ziegler-Otis is among the key speakers at Becker's ASC 24th Annual Meeting: The Business and Operations of ASCs. To learn more and register for the event, click here.

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