• Fri. Aug 5th, 2022

What nurses and support staff expect from employers today

ByJulie J. Helfer

Aug 3, 2022

Nurses and support staff are an essential part of any spine surgeon’s practice, but recruiting and retaining top talent is becoming increasingly difficult in the healthcare labor market.

Four spine surgeons identified the key things nurses and support staff expect from their employers today.

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons across the country about clinical, business and political issues affecting spine care. Becker’s invites all spine surgeons and specialist responses.

Next week’s question: How can spinal practices succeed and stand out in an increasingly consumerized market?

Please send your responses to Alan Condon at [email protected] by 5 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, August 10.

Editor’s Note: Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What are the top three things that nurses and support staff expect from their employers today?

Christian Zimmerman, MD. St. Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): After informally surveying the operating room and neurosurgery floors, the representative sample for this question was asked (usually in clusters) of approximately 80 full-time nursing staff and 30 support staff . Also included were managers and directors who provided more information about support staffing and ongoing tribulations with this issue. The main operating room, which has 25 operating theaters (four of which are exclusively for neurosurgery), where most were questioned, returned the following block of answers in order of priority:

1. Pay

2. Consistency with the schedule

3. Adequate staff

4. Appreciation

Overall, the most notable complaint among staff was persistent multi-faceted fatigue, either due to longer hours or erratic patient behaviors. This information was easily discussed and fully disclosed prior to his report.

Brian Gantwerker, MD. The Craniospinal Center in Los Angeles: Best to ask them. But, what I have found is that the top three things nurses and support staff need are:

1) Acknowledgment of receipt. Talk to them, interface, get to know them and their stories. You will find that your relationships will improve and suddenly things will run more smoothly for you – like your extra case at 4 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.

2) Reactivity. Always respond to pages, phone calls and queries – patient care is incredibly good when nurses get the information or answers they need

3) Respect. Although the doctor’s decision is often the final decision, listen and consider suggestions from nurses and support staff to do better for the patient and to make labor go smoothly and with mutual approval.

Brian Fiani, DO. Weill Cornell Medicine/New York-Presbyterian Hospital (New York): From a spine surgeon’s perspective, the top three things nurses and support staff expect from their employers today are: 1) a sense of camaraderie; 2) a sense of fair treatment; 3) a feeling of being supported.

1. Surgical specialty is one of teamwork. Teamwork leads to better results and ultimately a superior and more productive work environment. When people feel like they are part of a team, they feel like they have the ability to contribute and feel a sense of accomplishment. This makes nursing and support staff feel welcome to engage in patient care and that performance in their work matters and a sense of gratification comes from their work-related efforts. Ultimately, camaraderie leads to accountability, which is very important for patient care.

2. A sense of fair treatment is important for nursing and support staff so that they feel they are not being unfairly scrutinized, criticized or discriminated against. Fair treatment leads to good morale and ultimately a positive work environment.

3. Feeling supported means spine surgeons and employers stand up for their nurses and support staff. Due to the hierarchical system rooted in medical and surgical specialties, there are power dynamics. As the “Spiderman” movies say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Advocating for nurses and support staff means listening to their needs and trying to find solutions as challenges arise.

Chester Donally, MD. Texas Spine Consultants (Addison): Good pay and camaraderie. They want to be shown to them financially that they are important and they want you to recognize their importance.

A few years ago, I submitted articles about online reviews and what influences them. In my original submission, I indicated that the negative reviews were based on the staff and not the doctor, so the doctors are not to blame. But critics have shrewdly pointed out that doctors control the staff and are a direct representation of us. So any reviews that talk about our staff but not the doctors are definitely a representation of us and something that the doctors also control. It is a series of comments that marked me. Of course, I’ve updated the article discussion to reflect this mentality and it’s the one we preach in our own group.