By Weston “Hank” Balch, CRCST, CIS, CHL
I’m going to come right out and state the obvious: great SPD technicians don’t typically come knocking on your door when you need one. The general experience of SPD leaders is that we fight for weeks to get a position approved, only to receive a meager handful of mediocre applicants when the job is finally posted. If you work in a competitive medical center setting with large hospitals right across the street from your own, you may face different challenges, including staff retention (which we’ll cover in an upcoming newsletter). Overall, there are few department leaders today who aren’t asking the question, “How do I find great techs when I need them?” Here are two answers that may surprise you and hopefully help you hire the best technicians on the market.
Own the Process: Become Your Own Recruiter
As you can probably guess, few if any of your facility’s recruiters have ever set foot in a Sterile Processing department and many of them probably couldn’t readily differentiate what you do from Environmental Service and Clinical Engineering. So there shouldn’t be any surprise that you’re not being sent the particular kinds of folks who would be an asset to your growing SPD team. The answer here is to become your own, dedicated SPD recruiter. Commit to finding the pulse of your local healthcare market. Find out how competitive your hourly wage is compared to the big boys down the street. Identify different recruiting “pools” that you can focus your marketing on, like military/veteran employment centers, local colleges/universities, refugee placement organizations, and even well-known local businesses that recruit for and train a customer-first philosophy. Create your own job postings on social media and utilize community bulletin boards to build long-term recruiting pipelines.
Hire Personality First, Skills Second
I know what you’re thinking. You need someone to come in and be able to provide immediate productivity, something like a 30-year SPD veteran who can do a Major Ortho tray with their eyes closed. Well, yes, we’d all love some of those. But the fact is, those are the same folks who are retiring in large numbers today. We are usually replacing them, rarely recruiting them. Remember, no one is born knowing how to hold eight curved Criles in one hand while stringing them with the other. That skill was taught. What can’t be taught is the personality that wants to do this kind of work excellently. You can teach know-how, you can’t teach want-to. So when you’re hiring your next frontline technicians, make sure to focus more on their values and how those values match with where you are wanting to go as a department. Do they want growth, understand teamwork, enjoy being the best at customer service, etc.? With a tight training program and an expectation of industry certification, a driven new hire with the right personality has unlimited potential to push your department forward.
While these are not the only ways to fill your department with SPD hotshots, they are great first steps for getting strong candidates in the door so your teams can continue providing top notch care to every patient, every time. Let the interviews begin!