Here's how to match staffing with your needs

Finding just the right mix between permanent and as-needed staff is a perennial challenge for same-day surgery managers. Michael Ryan, RN, MBA, vice president of D.J. Sullivan & Associates, a surgical services management consulting firm based in Ann Arbor, MI offers this advice when setting staffing levels:

* Analyze your staffing needs.

Track your case volume by day of week and time of day for three months. You can simply create a grid, listing the days of the week at the top of a sheet of paper and operating hours along the side. Then make a note of your case volume at each hour.

"What we're looking for are the highs, lows, and the median related to the demand on staffing resources," Ryan says. "A staffing plan is then designed around several different options."

Some same-day surgery managers plan for mean staffing and bring in supplemental staff for peak periods, he says. Others staff for low volume and use part-time or per diem staff to handle heavier caseloads.

"It's really dependent upon what variations there are in your business," Ryan says. "If you have a steady business and it doesn't fluctuate much, you'll staff at that level. If you have high volume fluctuations, you're going to be more flexible with your staffing level and not be locked into a certain number."

* Decide how you will fill peak demand.

Sometimes same-day surgery managers assist in the OR when case volumes reach their highest level. Often, they also need some flexible or as-needed staff.

Part-time staff are generally guaranteed a minimum amount of hours per pay period, and they may have a set schedule. Managers may schedule them for peak days or to cover for full-time staff who are on vacation. Part-time staff sometimes receive limited benefits, Ryan says.

Per diem staff, who can be called to work on an as-needed basis, provide the maximum flexibility. However, Ryan cautions that the use of per diem staff presents other management issues. *

For more information on the supplemental staffing program, contact :

* Judy Paukovits, Clinical Manager, Surgical Services, Southwest General Medical Center, 18697 Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130. Telephone: (216) 826-2794.

For more information about staffing, contact:

* Claudia Eminger, Vice President of Operations, D.J. Sullivan & Associates, 2155 W. Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103-3975. Telephone: (313) 662-7500.