Site of Service Transition Creates New Career Opportunities for Anesthesiologists
A site of service transition is underway in the healthcare industry. Advances in technology and medicine have enabled procedures once relegated to hospitals to be safely performed in surgery centers and physician offices throughout the country. This is exciting news for anesthesiologists, as this shift opens up new career opportunities in a field where options were previously limited.
The role of an anesthesiologist has historically been limited to hospital environments. The routine of early mornings, rotating late shifts, overnight shifts, weekends, and holidays are grueling and inconvenient yet part of the job. A typical work week can be 60, 70, even 80 hours. While some anesthesiologists don’t mind rigorous hospital schedules, over time many come to desire a more traditional, streamlined schedule. Surgery centers have offered some sense of “normalcy” in terms of hours. However, most surgery centers are staffed by an anesthesiologist group that is still working with a hospital, therefore anesthesiologists are often required to split their time between the surgery center and hospital. In doing so they are left dealing with some of the same issues they yearn to leave behind. Fortunately, with the rise of office-based surgical practices, anesthesiologists can attain the balance they crave.
Because physician offices have more traditional business hours, schedules are predictable. This means fewer early mornings and late nights with no overnights or holidays. These settings are also more structured. Most procedures are elective and, therefore, planned well in advance which greatly reduces the chaos that is typical in a hospital environment. Part-time positions (which are rare in specialty areas) are another unique benefit of this environment—ideal for anesthesiologists that want true work/life balance.
The career opportunities created by this site of service transition are exciting. However, the office-based setting is not for everyone. To determine if this environment is right for you, consider the following.
When working in a hospital or surgery center there are typically other anesthesiologists and critical care personnel on site. If an emergency happens, you press a blue light and people come running. This is not the case in an office environment. Therefore, it is important that anesthesiologists are confident in their skills and competent to be able to handle any emergency that may arise. Anesthesiologists must be prepared, and have a robust system in place for what to do if an emergency does occur. Working for an anesthesia group that provides all the equipment, medication, and critical care nursing staff will significantly aid in achieving exceptional patient safety.
Extra effort is also required during the patient selection process to ensure each patient is a good fit for an office procedure. Surgeon selection is equally important, as you want to make sure the physician is working within the bounds of what’s safe to do in an office. This is handled for you when working for a practice that vets the surgeons and proceduralists with a rigorous credentialing process.
It’s also important to not underestimate the simplicity of an office-based setting. The overall volume of procedures may be less, but the pace of the procedures themselves is quick. In an office environment there are time constraints, having patients awake and ready to go is key to achieving the tight turnaround time typical in an office setting.
One often-overlooked responsibility of working in an office setting is the customer service anesthesiologists must provide to both surgeons and patients. For the right personality, this is a plus as it keeps things interesting and adds an extra component not typically required in the hospital setting; however, it also changes who is a good fit. Anesthesiologists that are considering transitioning to the office-based setting need to ask themselves if they are ready to take on this extra responsibility that requires the utmost patience, clear communication skills, and the ability to collaborate to satisfy the needs of the physician clients as well as their mutual patients.
A brighter future
With technology and medicine continuing to advance, and insurance carriers realizing the savings potential associated with performing certain procedures in-office rather than a hospital or ASC setting, this market is expected to grow. More routine procedures will move away from hospitals and ASCs and into office-based settings. In doing so, additional opportunities will be created for anesthesiologists, especially for those that want to specialize in a particular area such as orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology, gynecology, oral surgery, and more.
For anesthesiologists tired of the daily hospital grind, this is all welcome news. The predictability and flexibility of an office environment is appealing for a variety of reasons; and as more anesthesiologists pursue in-office employment, they will enjoy this evolution within their industry.