Anesthesia Staffing: Skills You Should Look For

anesthesiologist at work to illustrate anesthesia staffing
June 15, 2023 0 Comments

Have you ever thought just how crucial your anesthesia staffing strategy is? Anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists now deploy skills that are a million miles away from the days of pouring alcohol down your patient’s throat as your surgeon chops off a gangrenous toe!

Their skill in delivering modern anesthesia is what makes today’s complex operations possible, less scary – and the survival of your hospital more likely!

There are two reasons you might be talent searching for anesthesia staff today:

  1. You have an in-house anesthesiologist vacancy due to staff churn.
  2. You’ve decided to outsource to anesthesia providers and need to make thorough checks before contracting.

So let’s deep dive into what you’re looking for in terms of anesthesia staffing skills. You can’t leave vetting to chance,

What Clinical Knowledge and Experience is Important for Anesthesia Staffing?

There’s an interplay between training in hard skills, experience, and soft skills that makes the difference between a successful appointment and one that brings dismay, distrust, or disagreement into your well-run OR.

However, pure clinical knowledge can’t be ignored. Hard skills for an anesthesiologist include:

  • biology, sociology, chemistry, and psychology knowledge
  • pharmacology expertise
  • knowledge of local, regional, and general sedation, and epidural techniques
  • successful and recognized management of patient pain and monitoring of vital signs
  • experience of conditions that require special anesthesia techniques
  • proven ability to work in any setting: hospitals, clinics, ambulatory facilities, rural, urban, and on-call

After checking paper credentials, still ask questions! For example, you could ask which is the more important skill, and why, out of: safely opening a trachea or placing a face mask to maintain air provision.

There are also other questions you can ask a candidate.

But with someone further on in their career, another important hard skill might be their training in pediatric anesthesiology. The operational needs of adults and children are not similar, and you can’t assume a candidate understands how to work out appropriate amounts of anesthesia, analgesic, or sedatives for children.

Likewise, anesthetists during cardiac surgery need specific training in the utilization of cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) and extracorporeal circulation. Check your candidate has skills to manage possible complications such as bleeding, hemodynamic instability, and electrolyte imbalances.

Vascular surgery, too, demands advanced hemodynamic monitoring and blood pressure management techniques from your anesthesiologist. Check they have experience of using invasive arterial lines and central venous catheters.

Which Other Skills Are Important in Anesthesia Staff?

Training programs don’t necessarily look for trainees with softer or non-technical skills, although they’ve always been necessary in anesthesia.

These other skills can be separated into mental skills (strategic, cognitive thinking) and social skills (interpersonal). But together they include

  • communication,
  • task management,
  • team working,
  • situational awareness to match any facility,
  • alertness to unexpected or changing events,
  • planning ability,
  • resource management, and
  • decision-making.

The thing is, your anesthesiologist has to work alongside surgeons, doctors, and nurse anesthetists in a highly stressful, changing environment. Without these skills, their technical knowledge will not be enough.

However, the non-technical skills of an anesthesiologist can only be taught to a certain extent. So, when interviewing – or discussing outsourcing with an external supplier – you need to address these.

You can gauge the more human ones by instinct! But you may need to discuss realistic OR scenarios to check out the more cognitive skills you’re looking for. Interestingly, one study did use a patient simulator that repeatedly exposed anesthesiologists to anesthesia crises in order to assess their non-technical skills!

This isn’t OTT. The majority of errors and patient mishaps in the peri-operative period arise from lack of these non-technical skills. So check and double-check.

What Kind of Person is a Good Fit For Staffing Your Anesthesia Unit?

In addition to training and non-technical skills, the following characteristics are also essential if you want excellent anesthesia staff:

  • Dedication to top-quality work
  • A detail-oriented mentality
  • Ability to perform under constant pressure
  • Ability to solve problems in the moment
  • Active use of listening skills
  • Ability to establish trust quickly

You might also want to add in two other things that come under the umbrella of characteristics:

The first is displaying a lively interest in the latest technology, software, and equipment. Yes, you won’t always be able to bring the latest devices onboard straight away. But active interest in the professional development of anesthesia will benefit your patients!

The second is this. When looking at anesthesia contracting, your unit will benefit from someone who is

  • flexible about being on call when emergency surgery is required, and
  • relaxed about operations running on.

The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist who is reticent about these things is going to cause trouble down the line. Life as an anesthesiologist will never be predictable in most hospitals!

Meridian Medical Services Can Help With Anesthesia Staffing

At Meridian, we can help you source exceptional talent that surpasses your basic requirements and helps improve the running of your OR. We do this by employing top providers to partner with your facility as the perfect fit to meet your specific needs.

Why not give us a call and let us help you solve your expert anesthesia staffing needs?

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Anesthesia Staffing: Skills You Should Look For
Looking for exceptional anesthesia staffing? We list everything you need to check out, including specialty qualifications and softer skills.