A Day in the Life of an Administrator: Karen Reiter


Celebrate All Your Small Successes, Every Day

In this inaugural online column, A Day in the Life of an Administrator, we sat down with Karen Reiter, RN, CNOR, RNFA, CASC, vice president, operations and payor management at TriasMD, the parent company of DISC Sports & Spine Center with locations throughout California. Outpatient Surgery Magazine will be posting these columns regularly to give the Administrators in ambulatory facilities a voice – and to share, in their own words, what it is like to walk in their shoes just for a moment. These stories may provide all members of the OR team with a glimpse into the significant role these individuals play and the challenges they face every day as they work alongside their OR teams.

OSM: Can you describe a typical day at DISC for you?

Karen Reiter (KR): A typical day is — LONG. It’s a lot of work, and it’s an exercise in problem solving to carve out your time the right way, but it’s never, ever dull.

Being a leader of a surgery center is not the right job for someone who craves consistency and wants to come to work and do the same thing over and over with little stress or problems to solve. I’ve never had the same exact day twice, and that’s what I love about the role. My day is never dictated by me; it’s like having 10 jobs in one. One moment you’re an engineer, the next you’re a business analyst, then suddenly, you’re the head of HR.

I believe one of the most critical duties of a facility leader is finding ways to keep everyone happy. You really need a positive person in this role. Even when things are going South, I try to keep a positive demeanor and use problems as teachable moments and learning experiences. For instance, if there’s a near-miss, you could criticize or you could use the opportunity to evaluate what could have been done differently — and what must change in the future.

OSM: What would you say is the most difficult aspect of your job?

KR: Like most facilities, staffing has been our greatest challenge post-COVID. ASCs generally run lean with full-time employees and lean on per diem staff. But regardless of your staffing model, you need to make sure everyone is showing up, so you can provide the best possible care for your patients.

It’s also extremely difficult to place the right people in the right roles. Once you bring people on board, they must be trained in the right way. When it comes to education, everybody needs to receive the same information, but people need to hear it in different ways. My role is to balance the needs of the team with those of the facility and the physicians.

OSM: What is the most rewarding part?

KR: I love celebrating those small successes — negotiating an implant at a lower price point or getting buy-in for that small but significant process change. I work very hard at practicing complete transparency with doctors and the rest of the OR team, so whenever we achieve one of these small successes, I go out of my way to share it with everyone. Few things make me happier than when the rest of team is energized and excited with these tiny victories, too. I absolutely love when staff enjoy wanting to make a difference in patients’ lives.

OSM: What’s one unique ritual you or your team has?

KR: We have two quick daily huddles – one before our cases start and one after they’re all done for the day – on what needs to happen to make the day a success and what we can do better the next time around. The morning huddle is especially important because before we open up our rooms, we take five minutes to doublecheck and make sure the schedule, the implants, the turnover equipment and support are all lined up. Everybody — from Environment Services and the front desk staff to Anesthesia and the OR team — is represented during these huddles and everyone gets a say. Instead of manager simply doling out orders and saying, “You do this, and you do that,” we have a collaborative process where everyone is weighing in and asking each other, “Who can do this?”

OSM: Please finish this sentence, “The most important part of managing a successful surgery center is…”

KR: …your team and your people! As a leader, you must ensure they’re happy — and that everybody fully understands their critical role in providing top quality care to patients.

Outpatient Surgery Magazine would like to thank Karen for sharing her life with us! On behalf of our team, we are sending a small token of appreciation to Karen and her OR team. If you are an Administrator and would like to share your day and personal stories for this online exclusive column, please contact our Editor-in-Chief Jared Bilski at [email protected]. Have a great day! OSM

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