Even before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the medical industry was experiencing staffing shortages. The shortage was only exacerbated after the pandemic, with thousands of medical professionals leaving the field. One survey from the Washington Post found that approximately three in ten healthcare workers considered leaving the medical profession for a number of reasons, including mental burnout and stress.
While all healthcare departments are feeling the negative effects of staffing shortages, the impact it has had on sterile processing departments has been particularly difficult. These invaluable behind-the-scenes workers contribute greatly to patient safety and the overall function of healthcare facilities. However, because SPDs are forced to do more with less, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to overcome labor shortages and remain productive.
Luckily, there are a few ways in which healthcare organizations can recruit and retain their SPD dream team. However, to implement these methods effectively, it’s important to understand the causes of staffing shortages.
Why SPD Staff Turnover Is so High
The causes of staffing shortages in SPDs are numerous. According to Brian Reynolds, filling vacant positions has become increasingly difficult. His organization has had nine open positions in the last two and half years and managed to fill three of them. However, these roles don’t stay filled for long, with people leaving quickly after they’re hired. Said Brian: “A lot of it had to do with so many things. For example, the region that I live in is very expensive as is the cost of living. There’s also debt and pre-COVID [issues]. It got to the point that we couldn’t offer them the money to sustain them or even to try and bring them onboard which was even worse.”
Brian went on to describe how even though he’s been able to hire individuals, he doesn’t plan on them staying. “Until they’re onboarded, I really can’t count them,” he said. “Finding qualified staff and getting them onboarded has been really taxing simply because I don’t [know] what the HR part is.” He continued by discussing the lack of visibility into salaries and how that’s increased employee turnover.
Poor salary is just one of the causes of staffing shortages, with additional factors being:
- Burnout and stress
- Poor work-life balance
- Decrease in working conditions
- Lack of support from leadership
- Little to no skill development opportunities
With more staff leaving positions, SPDs around the country are experiencing process slowdowns, decreases in productivity, increased risk to patient safety, and expensive turnover costs. One source found that the turnover costs within the healthcare industry is roughly $60,000.
3 Ways to Retain and Develop SPD Staff
The best way to avoid process slowdowns and increase quality output is by attracting and retaining high-quality talent. And while that may seem difficult, there are actually three relatively simple ways in which to do this.
1. Provide ongoing education and training.
With frequent surgical innovations, it’s important that SPD staff be regularly trained on new procedures. Offering training can also keep staff around for longer. According to a recent survey from Gallup, 59% of millennials would stay longer at their jobs if they offered more skill development opportunities. A measured 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers said the same.
2. Assign the right employees to the right roles.
It’s also important to provide high-quality training to keep staff up-to-date on the latest sterilization and medical procedures. This can help SPD techs feel more confident and job-ready, increasing their retention rates.
You want to ensure you’re bringing the right individuals with the right skills onto your staff at the right time. The way to do this: data. For example, data tracking tools like CensiTrac and CensisAI² capture data from across SPDs. Higher-ups can then drill into this data to uncover where technicians’ skills lie and ensure the right people are in the right roles. With high-quality talent in appropriate positions, errors are reduced, productivity is boosted, and overall employee satisfaction is increased.
3. Avoid employee burnout.
As mentioned above, thousands of healthcare professionals report leaving positions due to being overworked and burned out. Because SPDs are one of the busiest departments within healthcare facilities, leadership needs to ensure adequate staffing levels and appropriate productivity levels. By leveraging SPD data, leadership can more appropriately forecast future staffing needs, enabling them to begin the search for high-quality talent earlier. This ensures current staff don’t experience an increase in workload which can negatively impact their work-life balance.
Build Your SPD Dream Team With Censis
Staffing issues are not going away; they’re only going to increase. Luckily, leveraging data insights with CensiTrac and CensisAI² enables you to avoid the negative impacts of staffing shortages. Robust data tools highlight exactly where more training is needed, enabling staff to further their careers. Additionally, data tools can accurately forecast future training needs so you can avoid any decrease in productivity or overworking your staff.
Stay ahead of staffing shortages with Censis. Contact a representative for a free demo today.