I still have a little mental trauma from my first anesthesia job. Well, actually it’s really from the hospital. And it all occurred over a four year period.
The anesthesia group was awesome. The OR staff was like family. The patients and surgeries were challenging. It was a great first job to take out of training.
Like most first jobs, I wasn’t experienced enough or confident enough to ask certain questions during the interview. Questions I didn’t know to ask. Questions if you were told to ask you would wonder, “Why in the world would I need to ask that?”
From the end of 2014 to the final months of 2018 was a whirlwind of credentialing and eventually interviewing for a new anesthesia job. Our group went from hospital employees to working for a national staffing company only to be replaced by another one 22 months later. The second staffing company lasted a year and half before we were once again hospital employees starting January 1, 2018.
It gets better.
Early September we were informed the hospital would be closing its doors as of December 30.
The Anesthesia Contract
Bouncing around from different anesthesia groups within the same facility to watching a hospital fail changes your perspective on how to evaluate an anesthesia job.
The focus now expands from is the group a good fit for me and am I a good fit for the group, to inquiring about the anesthesia group’s and hospital’s outlook for the future.
Many of the questions should be centered around the anesthesia contract with the hospital. How long have you had the contract? What is your relationship with the current administration? (Most hospital CEOs average 3-5 years in the position) How is the group integrated in hospital committees and leadership roles?
An anesthesia group that is actively involved in the hospital management becomes integral in the overall success of the mission and is seen as a value added to the administration. With many anesthesia departments receiving a stipend from hospitals to cover costs, “putting people asleep” is not enough anymore.
Does the anesthesia group have low complication rates? High patient satisfaction scores? How does the group rank in medical staff surveys against other departments? These are metrics the executive suite understands and if the group ranks well in these areas, they’re more willing to pay for your services.
Where is the Hospital Going?
Next, dive into how the facility is managed. If you are looking to make a long-term commitment to an area, you want to make sure the hospital has financial stability and a plan for the future.
Before even sitting down for the interview do a search on the facility. Check out news articles and reviews. Granted you might not find anything, but you could discover it has earned regional recognition or had a budget shorting coming for the previous year. It’s akin to reviewing the chart before going into pre-op the patient. It’s a starting point to guide the discussion.
When assessing the hospital you want to take into consideration what they have done in the recent past and their plans for the future. Have they and are they continuing to invest in the facility and its staff?
Have there been any recent upgrades to the hospital? New wing or buildings? Renovations to the facility? Are they investing in new equipment?
Have they recently brought on any new surgeons? Are there any in the pipeline? What specialties are they looking to build on?
Lasty, don’t be afraid to ask what the financials of the hospital are. Granted, as we muddled our way through Covid, 2019’s and this year’s numbers are probably pretty bleak. But find out what it was like before the pandemic. Does it have the financial support to continue its mission as we crawl back to normalcy?
I wasn’t joking when I said I have a little mental trauma from my first job. Recently, due to Covid and it just being the summer we had some days when we closed some ORs because of low case counts. There was a tiny part of my brain that flashed panic because “I’ve seen this before”, but I reminded myself the circumstances are different and to relax.
Due diligence during the interview helped gather all the available information to conclude the hospital was on the right path. The anesthesia group was an integral part to its success. But that being said, if the last year taught us anything about the healthcare industry, there is no such thing as a sure thing.
We can only make an informed decision with the current information and continue to provide excellent patient care until the hospital kicks us out or we decide to leave.
Hopefully, it’s the latter.