Charles Trentham, M.D., M.B.A,
Regional Medical Officer, Clinical Colleagues, Inc.
Most executives know and understand that keeping employees happy is a critical factor for long-term success. Those who enjoy coming to work each day, who feel that they are truly part of a team and are respected and appreciated by leadership, are most likely put the most effort and care into their day-to-day work. These philosophies apply in most business environments, and the healthcare world is no exception.
At the onset, keeping your anesthesiologists happy may seem like a challenge. But the reality is that there are a few simple steps hospital leaders can take, that will go a long way in terms of forging and improving relationships with these key members of your medical staff team:
- Get them involved. Most physicians welcome the opportunity to get involved with what is happening in the hospital community. They are eager for leadership opportunities and involvement in committees that could benefit from their insights. Like everyone else, your anesthesiologists would like to have a voice. Some will make it clear that they want to be involved, and others will wait to be asked. Take some time to think about how these physicians can be exposed to what is happening in your organization, outside of surgery. Promote the options directly if possible or at medical staff meetings. Offer your providers new opportunities and make sure they know you encourage their participation. It will ultimately be a win-win.
- Respect their time. In many cases, there is too much focus on accommodating the surgeons, and keeping them happy. Don’t forget about the team of people, including the anesthesiologists, who work with those surgeons, and who play an equally important role in not only making your operating room work efficiently, but also delivering quality patient care. Their time is equally important. Any time possible, avoid a schedule with time gaps where providers are waiting for the next case to begin. Consider how you staff, in terms of total number of O.R. personnel per shift. Flexibility is the key and staggered scheduling has proven to be an effective approach for many hospitals, allowing the day-long “marathon” schedule to be broken into manageable pieces while increasing O.R. utilization and efficiency
- Respect their profession. While anesthesia is a service, your anesthesiologists have a M.D. following their name. They are professionals who have undergone a significant amount of training in order to do their jobs. They deserve the same level of respect that is given to the rest of your medical staff (e.g., “Where is Dr. Smith?” as opposed to “Where’s anesthesia?”).
- Respect their needs. Some anesthesiologists prefer to come to work and do the same thing each day. Others crave variability in their work. Get to know your docs. Understand what their preferences are and if they would rather serve on a specialty team in order to maintain their skill. If so, support these arrangements. And of course, it’s important to make sure you are supplying them with the right equipment and tools to do their jobs.
Most will agree – the concepts outlined in this article are not rocket science. It’s about looking at the little things that matter. Keeping your people, and yes, even your anesthesiologists, happy, can and will make a positive difference in both efficiency and safety.
About Charles Trentham, M.D., M.B.A. and Clinical Colleagues, Inc.
Charles Trentham, M.D., M.B.A. is a Regional Medical Officer for Clinical Colleagues, Inc., and is double-boarded in Anesthesiology and Pediatrics. With more than 20 years of experience, he is responsible for the management oversight of anesthesia practices nationwide, and works collaboratively with hospital leaders to implement safe and efficient anesthesia services at community hospitals. To learn more about Dr. Trentham and Clinical Colleagues visit www.ClinicalColleagues.com.