High turnover rates of SPD directors and managers, educators, supervisors and technicians can have a significant effect on the OR and elsewhere in a healthcare institution.
Total hospital turnover rates across the nation are 19.1 percent, according to the 2019 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report. The report also notes that, since 2014, the average hospital has turned over 87.8 percent of its workforce.
This comes at a time when healthcare is growing rapidly, and hospitals are increasingly reliant on experienced workers. Vacant positions within the SPD can slow down processes throughout busy institutions, leaving OR workers behind schedule and patients at risk. High turnover rates are also expensive – the estimated average cost of turnover across all occupations in healthcare is approximately $60,000.
Increasing retention is one of the best ways a sterile processing department can mitigate slowdowns in the SPD, reduce turnover costs, and increase quality output.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Research shows that high-skills training (80 percent) and professional development programs designed to sharpen soft skills (74 percent) are among the top benefits for retaining employees’ services over the next five years.
Rapidly growing innovation and complexity of surgical instruments and medical devices require continued education and training for SPD techs. To ensure optimal results and regulatory compliance, the sterile processing department should have its own educator and training curriculum for both new and advanced technicians. Moab Healthcare offers Sterile Processing Educator Consultants that implement and hardwire a training curriculum, as well as provide the educational program and competencies needed.
Having the right employees is essential to any operation, but assigning employees to the right position within the SPD can help retention. Sterile processing departments feature two sections: decontamination and the clean side. In most SPDs, the less-experienced technicians work predominately in decontamination and those with higher-level expertise work in prep and pack. Short staffing can force more experienced technicians back to decontamination full time, a move that is often unpopular with top talent. Left on the decontamination side for too long, the higher-level technicians may seek opportunities elsewhere. Avoiding shifts in decontamination is very attractive to top technicians. At Moab, we work to help you stabilize your SPD during these staffing shortages and increase quality and productivity through outsourcing the decontamination side.
Employee workload, chronic fatigue, compassion fatigue, and loss of confidence are precursors to burnout among healthcare professionals. In a recent survey of human resources (HR) leaders, 95 percent of the respondents said that burnout is “sabotaging workforce retention.”
SPDs are among the busiest departments in hospitals and the procedures used in sterile processing departments are among the most complex. Adequate staffing can reduce the risks of unreasonable workload and excessive overtime, but predicting staffing needs for the SPD is complicated. The sterile processing volume does not correlate to surgical volume, for example. Furthermore, the volume and complexity of surgical trays determine sterile processing staff and productivity, not simply surgical volume.
Many SPDs have antiquated staffing productivity models that fail to keep up with the demands of today’s sterile processing. Using these outdated models create a short-staffed SPD and will increase the risk of overworked sterile processing professionals looking for a new job.
Moab Healthcare performs sophisticated staffing productivity analyses and uses the most current models to determine correct staffing levels. Hospitals across the country are taking interest in improving retention in every department, including sterile processing. Improved retention can help healthcare institutions keep their most valuable employees, boost morale, and save money.