As a traveler, I usually find there is a reason for travelers; there are situations where people just don’t want to be part of this lab or that lab. The culprit is usually either the management, the doctors or a small number of staff members who make life miserable for everyone else. My personal preference is a place where the staff is friendly and the management cares about them. I can deal with not-so-nice doctors!
However, I am lucky enough to have landed this time in a place that works! The staff work together well, everyone knows their role, and they help each other to get a large volume of work done. This is a busy EP lab, with 3 labs and open 12 hours/day. A lot of wisdom went into making this work. Even now, while they’ve added physicians and are adding and training staff, it works. Part of it is that the labor is divided along definite lines. There is the scrub tech, the recorder, and the nurse/circulator. The scrub tech and recorder are usually interchangeable, although there are times they are not. However, no one is asked to do anything with which they are uncomfortable. They seem to have grasped the concept that within the Cath (or EP) lab, there is equality. Nurses and techs (both RT and RCIS) work side-by-side, with no antipathy for each other. Sometimes it is an RN recording and an RT/RCIS scrubbing; sometimes it is the RT/RCIS recording and the RN scrubbing. Of course, due to the medication administration, only an RN is allowed to circulate. Knowing your role is important to making a department work.
Chance for advancement is also important to employee satisfaction. In the department where I am now, everyone is receiving training to record and to scrub. The hospital has brought in travelers to fill in the slots so other employees are trained. This is amazing. There are few facilities that will provide this opportunity for their employees. It satisfies each person’s need to improve themselves, and to advance their careers. At the same time, it provides the hospital with a larger staff pool from which to draw, easing problems encountered when team members are absent due to vacation or illness. Cross training creates a win-win situation for facilities.
Last, and probably most important, is the feeling that each person is appreciated. In other facilities, breaks happen between cases and lunch is a “sometimes” occasion. At two hospital groups, staff members clock out for lunch, ostensibly to protect the staff. This keeps management from insisting on “short lunches” and ensures staff members are able to at least stop for 30 minutes. Or at least, that they get paid for it. At another hospital, clocking out includes the question “Did you take a 30 minute uninterrupted lunch break away from your workplace?” These help, but do not really provide the appreciation necessary for employee satisfaction. At my current position, each staff member is allowed a morning and afternoon break and a full lunch break. These are rigidly enforced, probably due to a union contract. However, a union contract shouldn’t be necessary for a facility that is truly interested in staff retention and employee satisfaction.
I worked at a hospital many years ago; a well-known hospital where roles were rigidly enforced, lunches and breaks were prompt, and continuing education was even provided monthly. However, there was a restlessness among the staff. I believe that restlessness was caused by the facility’s unwillingness to cross train them. When people are held back or kept in a position, without the possibility of advancement, there is no satisfaction. My thought is that the cross training at this hospital, along with fairness and appreciation, is what makes it a good place to work. And the doctors are pretty good. Of course, there is always one…