April 13, 2023

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THIS WEEK'S ARTICLES

New Jersey ASCs Continue to Face Recruiting Challenges

Social Media Can Provide Value to Nurses and Administrators

OR Nurses Are in High Demand Post-Pandemic - Sponsored Content

A Look Behind the Drape at Hospital Benefits for Nurses

Four Ways to Lead Like a Boss

 

New Jersey ASCs Continue to Face Recruiting Challenges

Three years into the pandemic, 84% still struggle to find staff.

Travel RNWIDE NET Roughly one in three New Jersey ASCs is currently using an agency to fill in staffing gaps with travel nurses. | Shelley Harris

As many surgical facilities continue to struggle with the perioperative staffing crisis, data that helps us to better quantify the scope of the issue is in short supply as well. A study released late last month by the New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers (NJAASC) provides a glimpse at just how deep and wide the problem runs at ASCs in the nation’s 11th-most populous state, bookended by the major metropolitan markets of New York City and Philadelphia.

NJAASC’s 2022 Salary and Benefits Report surveyed 108 New Jersey ASCs — more than half of its members — during the fourth quarter of 2022. It found that 84% of them continue to experience difficulty recruiting staff after three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Great Resignation was one contributing factor to the staffing shortage at ASCs in New Jersey and nationally, but the healthcare industry overall is dealing with a shortage of qualified medical professionals,” says Joan McKibben, an NJAASC board member and chairperson of the benchmarking committee that conducted the survey. “As a result, ASCs, like other points of care within the healthcare ecosystem, must compete for top talent.”

NJAASC also polled the ASCs about their recruiting and retention efforts, identifying several key ideas and data points. Among them:

  • Nearly 64% offer flexible work shifts.
  • Nearly 90% allow scheduling, billing, administrative and other staff to work from home.
  • According to the responding ASCs, the most popular benefits they offered to employees last year were paid vacations, paid holidays, health insurance and 401(k) plans.
  • To cover vacancies, more than 35% use a “travel agency” — an outsourced firm that provides staff who commit to a minimum of three months in a given role.
  • To meet immediate staffing needs, more than 20% use “agency staff” — temporary workers who cover a shift or a day.

“Our study underscores how New Jersey’s ASCs are, in fact, competing aggressively for the best providers and staff by offering competitive benefits packages, and flexible schedules and workplace arrangements,” says Meg Stagliano, president of NJAASC’s Board. “In addition, ASCs as a workplace offer other benefits that appeal to potential employees, including weekends and holidays off, predictable work hours with flexibility, and not having to be on call for emergencies — all of which can contribute to a healthy work-life balance.”

Social Media Can Provide Value to Nurses and Administrators

Surgical leaders can connect with attractive job candidates they might not have been able to find otherwise.

VanceSOCIAL JOLT Nurse educator Margaret Vance says connecting and interacting with professional peers on social media can lead providers to knowledge and opportunities they otherwise would never have anticipated. | Penn Medicine

You and your nursing team may scroll through social media apps for fun, but did you know staying connected can actually help healthcare professionals advance in their careers?

At Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Catherine Bordelon, MBA, human resources business partner, and Margaret Vance, MSN, RN, CNOR, OR clinical nurse education specialist, surveyed surgical nurses to learn more about their perceptions of social media, as well as to identify opportunities for teaching them about its many uses.

They found a degree of ambivalence about the use of social media for professional purposes. “A significant number of nurses said they didn’t feel using social media could benefit their practice or career,” says Ms. Bordelon. To help change that perception, she and Ms. Vance hosted a social media in-service. “We researched how social media was used in the profession, including recommendations from the American Nurses Association and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing,” says Ms. Vance.

Among their session’s takeaway points was that nurses can create a positive impression with potential future employers by how they interact on social platforms like LinkedIn. “The opportunities that are presented on these platforms, such as positions in nurse leadership or quality and safety, are ones that staff nurses may not initially seek out on their own,” notes Ms. Vance. Likewise, administrators who are active on social media could meet attractive job candidates that might not otherwise have shown up on their radar.

Another benefit of social media is the variety of ways it can help nurses interact and share tips, such as on the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association’s message boards and in the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses’ (AORN’s) members-only ORNurseLink online community (Editor’s note: Outpatient Surgery Magazine is offering readers a $25 discount on AORN membership, which provides access to ORNurseLink and many other resources. Click here to join and enter code OSM25 at checkout for the $25 discount.)

“These platforms are places where you can discuss your profession as a group with colleagues across countries and continents,” says Ms. Bordelon.

A further benefit of being on various social media platforms is the ability to get instant access to the latest updates from national public health agencies such as the CDC. “Online access to this information was particularly crucial during the height of the pandemic, when protocols were changing by the week,” recalls Ms. Vance.

Ms. Vance and Ms. Bordelon emphasize that healthcare providers must employ proper social media etiquette, because posting work-related items can quickly go downhill. But when used wisely, these always evolving platforms have massive amounts of information that can be utilized for positive results, both in terms of professional development and patient care.

OR Nurses Are in High Demand Post-Pandemic
Sponsored Content

The predicted shortage of skilled nurses can offer new career paths for those looking for growth and change.

Hallway

Healthcare professionals across the country have challenging jobs in today’s climate of change and post-pandemic adjustments. This has especially affected operating rooms in hospitals and outpatient facilities, and operating room (OR) teams have had to pivot and adapt to the evolving environment and patient needs.

The OR nurse, in particular, is a job that requires dedication, fantastic leadership and organizational skills – and it’s not for everyone. The stakes are high, and it requires great attention to detail and stamina. But the work is rewarding both personally and professionally. Today, OR nurses are in high demand now that elective surgeries are returning after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, healthcare jobs are growing in leaps and bounds and are considered one of the fastest-growing segments for new jobs in the U.S. with a growth rate of 9% over the next 10 years. Nursing is one of the most critical areas for this growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects 194,000 RN job openings annually and expects the nursing labor market to increase by 6% between 2020 and 2030.

However, there may not be enough nurses to fill these roles. The “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast,” published in 2019 in the American Journal of Medical Quality, predicted a shortage of registered nurses nationwide by 2030, with the Western region of the country being hit the hardest. More recent findings published in Health Affairs, April 2022, uncovered the total supply of registered nurses has dropped by more than 100,000 between 2020 and 2021 – the largest drop in four decades.

With baby boomers more than doubling the aging population, the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and a large number of RNs themselves coming closer to retirement age, the need for registered nurses in all segments, including operating rooms will continue to rise. According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, the OR nurse is the sixth highest RN specialty in demand since 2019.

These healthcare professionals have a great pathway for career growth into higher-paying specialties, such as cardiovascular operating room nursing, master’s degree-level nursing or travel nursing.

How can these individuals grow in their careers? The solution is working with experts who understand the changing job landscape and can find the best match for the perioperative nurse who is looking for change. If you want to grow in your operating room career and need an advocate to help you find assignments in the locations and facilities you want, Soliant can help.

As one of the nation’s largest healthcare staffing companies with over 30 years of experience, Soliant offers customized and comprehensive services to OR nurses looking for career opportunities as well as hospitals and outpatient facilities who are looking for talent to fill important roles.

Note: For more information on OR staffing with Soliant, please go to soliant.com/staffing-services/nurse-staffing-agency. For more information on OR jobs with Soliant, go to soliant.com/nursing-jobs/operating-room-nurse-jobs.

A Look Behind the Drape at Hospital Benefits for Nurses

Prospect Medical offers a glimpse of the types of extra financial benefits that many outpatient centers are finding difficult to match.

With many outpatient surgery centers continuing to struggle to recruit and retain nurses, a common refrain is that freestanding ASCs can’t compete with hospital systems because hospitals offer superior pay and benefits. Earlier this month, Prospect Medical, which owns and operates 16 hospitals and more than 165 clinics and outpatient centers in California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas, provided a rare public glimpse “behind the drape” at just how tantalizing the allure of a large hospital system can be for job-hunting RNs.

In a press release, Prospect detailed what it calls its “highly competitive” hiring incentives to recruit RNs to its network of seven hospitals in California’s Los Angeles and Orange Counties:

  • A $25,000 sign-on bonus for OR nurses with one year of experience.
  • Loan forgiveness of $10,000 per year and up to $50,000 for five years for RNs after two years of employment with the system.
  • An annual $3,000 tuition reimbursement.
  • Funds for relocation to Southern California, starting at $5,000 for in-state RNs with acute care experience — up to $10,000 for out-of-state RNs.

Of course, outpatient surgery centers offer a variety of benefits few hospital systems can match, including reliable and predictable schedules that largely run Mondays through Fridays during business hours with weekends off; no call; more predictable workdays and clinical tasks; and, in many cases, family-oriented workplace cultures with more accessible leadership.

As hospital systems continue to throw money at nurses, outpatient centers must focus on and continue to enhance these less tangible benefits that, for some providers, might prove even more appealing than simply a larger salary and benefits.

Four Ways to Lead Like a Boss

By focusing on key concepts, leadership can be learned and developed over time.

To achieve success as a leader, there are numerous key concepts to consider as you self-analyze and learn to recognize and develop relevant skills. Kathy W. Beydler, RN, MBA, CNOR, CASC, a veteran of more than 30 years of OR experience and currently principal consultant at search and placement firm Whitman Partners, offers these four points to remember in particular.

Don’t concern yourself with “leadership style.” “The concept simply doesn’t get to the heart of what being an exceptional leader is all about,” says Ms. Beydler. “Leadership is less about what you do and more about how you cultivate relationships from your critical vantage point. Learning to build relationships requires strategies for self-reflection and growth.”

Know your strengths, and work on fine-tuning them. There’s never a shortage of people who will point out your weaknesses instead of your strengths, so make sure you know what your strengths actually are, says Ms. Beydler, who was told growing up that she talked and laughed too much with classmates. “Ironically, my chattiness and laughter are two of the things that helped me the most in my career as a consultant, a national speaker and an architect of mutually beneficial relationships,” she says. “Learning to recognize your natural strengths, and tuning out unwarranted criticism, sharpens your ability to recognize the strengths in those you lead.”

People skills are as important as clinical skills. No matter how good of a nurse you are, your points won’t be heard if you come across as being argumentative with peers, physicians or leadership. “You need emotional intelligence, which requires a combination of self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social skills, to be able to influence and motivate others,” says Ms. Beydler. “Being attuned to the needs of others and handling conflict effectively creates an environment in which people can be their best.”

Say “yes” to opportunities. “It’s easy to say ‘no’ to things outside your comfort zone, but it also sends a message to your boss that you think you might not be ready,” says Ms. Beydler. “People remember the leaders who say ‘yes.’”

Becoming a good leader isn’t as hard as it seems, notes Ms. Beydler. It just takes some serious self-analysis focused on where you are today, and where you’d like to be. It won’t happen overnight, but a strong commitment to developing leadership skills can positively impact your employees, your patients and, ultimately, yourself along the way. OSM

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