How your program can save on educational costs

Like many outpatient surgery programs, Mount Nittany Surgical Center in State College, PA, has a limited budget and always is trying to stretch its educational dollars as far as possible.

"We rotate who goes to seminars, etc., and then require the attendees to review the information they gathered with the rest of our staff," notes Roger Pence, administrative director of Mount Nittany and president of FWI Healthcare, an Edgarton, OH-based consulting firm for primarily ambulatory health care providers.

"This ensures the attendees pay attention at the meeting and increase their knowledge of the subject by reviewing and discussing it with others, and it enables nonattendees to learn about the topic also."

In addition, Mount Nittany videotapes manufacturer’s representatives who explain how to use new equipment and products, Pence says. "If someone is sick or a new hire started, they, too, can benefit from the recorded presentation," he says. "Some reps even append their presentation by adding updated information or responses to frequently asked questions."

Another way to save on education is to work with noncompeting facilities in your area and share the expense, suggests Jerry W. Henderson, RN, MBA, CNOR, CASC, executive director of SurgiCenter of Baltimore in Owings Mills, MD. Also, you can work with your state surgery center association or hospital association to offer low-cost seminars, sources say.

When you do send employees out of town to conferences or other educational opportunities, use a credit card that offers a payback. "We have a Bank One Visa that gives back 1% on certain items and 3% on other items," says Henderson, who uses the card for supplies also. "That isn’t much, but it does add up over time," she adds.

[Editor’s note: Do you have a cost-saving tip to share with your peers? Contact Joy Daughtery Dickinson, senior managing editor, at (229) 551-9195 or]