Recruiting staff at surgical facilities, both personnel and surgeons, is not much of a problem for some hospitals and ASCs, but it can be a daunting hassle for most.

Currently, we are recruiting all personnel for 13 new ASCs and two hospital clients. While we are fortunate to have a long list of available individuals, the process is time consuming and often fraught with disappointment. There are firms that specialize in recruiting staff, and there are the recruiters who always make their services available. But at the end of the day, it boils down to reading résumés of people who obviously did not read the actual requirements for the position and submissions from others who do not grasp the concept of spell check or punctuation.

After hiring more than 1,100 staff members and recruiting more than 700 surgeons, we have found some techniques that work.

Employee recruiting. These are the administrators, RNs, techs, front office staff, and the like. Our absolutely best method of finding these individuals is through conversations with and recommendations from other individuals.

We rarely need expensive online advertising because we let our vendors from other facilities in town find staff for us. These vendors and sales staff know who is unhappy with their current employers and looking to change. These new staff members come to us with fresh ideas and knowledge of others who also are looking to change.

Networking is so important in our industry because we are so specialized and good people always are in such high demand. When we need to advertise, the best success has occurred through connections to organizations such as Indeed, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, and local ASC organizations. We have used professional recruiters when we really get into a bind. They are very good and always deliver, but can be expensive. Finding front desk personnel is easier, but you have to hire the smile and train them from there. A surly, unfriendly receptionist, no matter how experienced, is a buzzkill for everyone, regardless of the pay.

Surgeon recruiting. I have retained surgeon recruiters in the past, but have been disappointed as they typically oversell themselves and rarely produce what we ask. One needs to be careful about assuming that what is promised will actually happen. Paying up front is risky. If you have to go this route, make sure your agreement is for a short-term engagement and payment is only made after results are achieved. Again, the key here is networking. Just like your vendors for staffing, drug reps, equipment sellers, and instrumentation vendors know most surgeons in your area. There is a strong bond between a surgeon and his or her vendor; use that to your advantage.

However, if you want to recruit a new surgeon, especially into an ASC, you need to be prepared to offer equity. It should be good equity, not fractions of a percent. Do not waste your time trying to recruit a spine or joint surgeon if you do not have significant posting times, attractive block times, and equity. The average equity for a productive spine or joint surgeon can exceed 20% ownership.

Often, it is easier to recruit surgeons into a new facility than an existing center for the aforementioned reasons. A negative reputation for an existing center and the surgeons associated with that center are typical reasons why it can be difficult recruiting new blood.

Avoid overselling. Every surgeon in every city has been approached multiple times to perform cases in an established facility. Most surgeons do not respond to those offers. Again, a vendor who knows the surgeon has his or her ear and can produce better results than you could on your own or if you paid someone to do it for you. Rarely will a surgeon be attracted to a facility owned by another physician unless that owner is willing to sell a significant amount of equity. Most surgeons will not want to sell their equity

Recommendation. It is much less of a hassle and expense to take care of your existing staff and keep your surgeons happy so you do not have to go through this process.

(Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: searnhart@earnhart.com. Web: www.earnhart.com. Instagram: Earnhart.Associates.)