Pure Processing’s annual SPD State of the Industry Report was recently published, and with it came many insights into the challenges departments across the country are facing. Among the top concerns identified by participants was staffing & retention. Staffing & retention challenges can have wide ranging impacts on departments, but one that almost any technician would point to right away is productivity.
It’s often not a single question that delivers insights into a problem. It’s a series of responses and data that, together, paint a larger picture. Throughout our 2023 SPD State of the Industry Report, various responses and data points helped highlight a couple industry trends.
Most important problems to solve
The most important problem participants believed needed to be solved in departments was staffing. It was closely followed by pay & benefits and equipment.
What technicians enjoy about working in sterile processing
Playing a role in patient safety & care, having a variety of work, and the importance of work were the top three aspects of working in a sterile processing department that participants pointed to.
Why technicians leave departments
Lack of appreciation and physical demands of the work were the top two reasons cited for why technicians leave departments.
The Impact of Being Short-Staffed
Being short-staffed can lead to a myriad of problems in SPD; the amount of people on an SPD team doesn’t change the volume of trays they’ll see on any given day, and the work needs to be done diligently to ensure patient safety. A short-staffed department can take a hit on productivity in several, cascading ways:
- Workload: The first, most obvious, challenge when a department becomes short-staffed is that the workload per team member suddenly goes up. With a smaller number of people handling the department’s standard volume, throughput will naturally go down, causing backups and delays.
- Quality: To counter the increased workload and attempt to avoid getting backed up, many departments will aim to speed up their reprocessing time on an individual basis. Unfortunately, this often leads to shortcuts being taken, or mistakes being made.
- Mistakes: A short-staffed team is more likely to make mistakes while trying to keep up with their case load volume. While trays may push through decontamination more quickly, mistakes found in prep & pack, or worse yet, the operating room, lead to a second round of processing, doubling the work required, wasting a tremendous amount of cumulative time.
Improving Staffing & Retention
From these insights in the 2023 SPD State of the Industry Report, as well as the impact that staffing & retention has on departments, a couple suggestions to mitigate short-staffing impacts might be as follows:
- Solve & prioritize the important problems: Fighting for improved compensation for your team and identifying the right equipment that not only helps your team do their job, but do it more effectively and improve ergonomics, will help you hold on to great teammates for longer.
- Hire the right people: When looking for new team members, find people that find value in helping others, as well as those that enjoy a variety in their work. Sterile processing is a perfect fit for individuals with altruistic values and multi-tasking abilities.
- Show appreciation: A top reason technicians leave is because they don’t feel appreciated for all that they do. Demonstrating the importance of your team’s work, coupled with a few investments to reduce strain and the physical burden of work, can be significant in demonstrating empathy and care as a leader.
Whether it’s staffing & retention, training & education, injury prevention, or future challenges, the 2023 SPD State of the Industry Report is revealing important information for SPD professional across the United States. Using its results to improve your department can help you not only keep great teammates, but also create a culture that draws great people to it.
Interested in learning more? Download our full 2023 SPD State of the Industry Report today!
The SPD State of the Industry Survey is an annual, free, anonymous survey asking real sterile processing professionals across the country about their experiences, backgrounds, and challenges they face in their departments. We hope by providing access to free industry research and data, instrument reprocessing professionals can better grow, develop and improve their own departments through the experience of their peers. We are grateful for all the professionals who participate each year, and the contributions to their patients and facilities: thank you for all you do!