The healthcare workforce faces growing supply-demand challenges.
Ambulatory surgery centers and outpatient centers have consistently faced challenges finding and retaining surgical teams, including nursing staff and Operating Room (OR) leaders. However, today’s workforce challenges are nearing crisis levels and, if not addressed, could hinder the much-needed growth of these facilities. Many of these staffing complexities stem from the growing supply-demand gaps in the healthcare workforce.
The industry faces increased patient demand for several reasons. For one, the aging U.S. population soon is expected to exceed the number of nurses available. In fact, global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. projects a deficit of 200,000 to 450,000 nurses by 2025.
On top of that, the ambulatory surgery market itself is growing as new procedures have been introduced, and case volume is predicted to increase in a variety of specialties. For example, spine and orthopedic procedures are expected to see substantial growth in the ambulatory space as advancements have enabled more complex, higher-acuity cases to be handled in facilities outside of a traditional hospital campus.
While the need for both specialized procedures and facilities continues to grow, the number of qualified healthcare professionals needed to safely care for patients and staff at these facilities continues to dwindle. There is not only a gap between supply and demand, but a gap that is increasingly widening.
The reality is that good nursing staff and OR leaders were always hard to find, but in recent years, experienced nurses have retired in larger volumes, and facilities across the nation have struggled to find replacements while also retaining existing staff.
Many outpatient facilities – particularly smaller freestanding ASCs – are having a hard time competing with the larger health systems in terms of retention. Expert Ann Geier, MS, RN CNOR(E), CASCAs, advises leaders to think carefully about a potential employee’s motivation to join your team.
According to her, “Savvy facility leaders pull in strong candidates by selling the culture of ASC life and the many intangible benefits of the job. For instance, marketing is often geared toward stressing the ‘family work environment’ of a small setting that creates a sense of unity, emphasizing that staff has a voice in the overall business decisions and hammering home the invaluable benefits of no-call, weekend or holiday scheduling.”
Leaders also will need to “think outside the box” to plan for staffing needs as the difficult climate continues in the coming months and years. That can mean getting involved in local nursing programs, or partnering with staffing organizations, like Soliant, who can help to fill the gaps quickly with a large, national network of qualified, specialized candidates.
This can supplement the organization’s own recruitment and retention strategies. One way to keep staff on board is to offer individualized education and training to upgrade skills – and then offer opportunities for growth and more responsibilities.
Every facility is unique, but forward-thinking leaders who are willing to invest in recruiting, retaining and planning for the career growth of their team members have a much better chance of keeping them engaged and at the organization.
As Ann Geier notes, “As difficult as the climate is right now, leaders can overcome the many challenges related to today’s staffing shortage. Remember, we’re in a long-term situation, and we must be able to plan and cope with unforeseen circumstances. That’s not an easy thing to do. We cannot only react. We need to be prepared.”
For more information on staffing, please visit January 2023: Focus on Staffing | Outpatient Surgery Magazine (aorn.org).
Note: For more information please go to soliant.com/staffing-services/nurse-staffing-agency