Entering the Sterile Processing Industry: Insights from our 2022 Technician Survey

Staffing & retention is a top concern for industries across the country. Finding great people and keeping those you already have has become more difficult than ever. Knowing this, we asked sterile processing technicians about their experience in the industry in our 2022 Technician Survey, including how they started their careers in central sterile services.

Here’s how our respondents answered:

How techs get into SPD - survey data

Referred by a friend or colleague

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. 33.58% of our respondents indicated that they originally got into sterile processing via a referral from a friend or colleague. This points to a potentially under-utilized source of new teammates: networking.

So, what are some easy ways to take advantage of the networks you already have?

  • Social media – Utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn can help you engage your personal and professional networks, and drive awareness about open positions.
  • In-person – Talking with friends and teammates can create unique oportunities through word-of-mouth. You never know who may know someone looking for a job or career change!
  • Internal referral programs – When resources allow, consider creating an internal referral program. Reward existing employees while filling vacant positions.

With so many sterile processing technicians pointing to referrals as their entry point to the industry, investing some time and energy to invigorate social and professional circles could help resolve vacancies.

 

Moved from another department in the hospital/facility

Leveraging professional circles just became even more important. With 25.37% of respondents saying they landed in the SPD from another department in their hospital, you may already know the next technician you’ll hire!

Here are some ways to identify potential candidates internally:

 

  • Communicating with other managers – despite the fact that it may mean losing a teammate in their department, letting managers of other departments know that you’ve got positions could get them to point internal staff your way. Word-of-mouth works here as well.
  • Talk to your HR team – make  your Human Resources (or equivalent) department know that there’s room for employees to grow in your department. It’s much easier to move someone to a new position within the organization than it is to find someone new!
  • Ask your teammates for help – members of your department may already know someone in your organization that could be interested in making a change.
  • Market your department – candidates need to be actively lured in to apply for jobs. Post photos, host fun employee events, and set up your department’s own set of Core Values to make your department seem more attractive.

 

No prior knowledge of SPD

Awareness is the key for the 25.37% of respondents that said they had no knowledge of sterile processing before finding an open position and joining the team. This notable percentage signals that there are people out there that would probably like a job in SPD, but simply don’t know it’s an option.

Some ways to generate awareness and find new candidates include:

  • Partnering with local educational institutions – from a high school to a four-year university, reaching out and partnering with them to help place students looking for employment, or simply volunteering to speak to classes about sterile processing can help funnel new candidates into your department.
  • Attending job fairs – job fairs are hosted by all kinds of organizations, from schools, to local governments and counties, to non-profits and community centers. Many of these sources will also promote job vacancies for free.
  • Get in touch with local Chambers of Commerce – Chambers of Commerce can be valuable resources for local organizations. They often have their finger on the pulse of the community they operate in and can help you create awareness about sterile processing positions. They may also serve as conduit to get you in touch with other helpful organizations in the community.

 

We’ve covered some methods that can help SPD Managers drive awareness of their open positions and sterile processing in general, but what happens once you’ve got a great team place? You need to keep them. Check out our blog post Creating and Maintaining a Great Culture in Sterile Processing to learn how to create a department that technicians want to work in!

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