Recruiting Anesthesia Providers: Challenges and Strategies


Is there a potential shortage of anesthesia providers? There are many variables affecting the demand. The current market has older, sicker patients that need care and there is an increased number of patients in the medical system. There has been an explosion of increased service needs in and out of the OR, as well as extraordinary growth of surgery centers. In parallel, the number of anesthesia providers retiring may be greater than the number of anesthesia providers entering the workforce. Also, according to our research, the younger generation of providers have difference priorities driving their job selection.

The Numbers In 2013, the Rand Corporation conducted a survey predicting shortages of anesthesiologists and CRNAs beginning in 2017. Based on the number of residencies started in 2012, a peak of new graduates happened in 2016. In 2017, however, a drop of about 16.8 percent is expected. The maximum number of active anesthesiologists appears to be 44,500, but 40 percent of them are between 48 and 55 years of age.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) offers the optimistic statistic that 25 percent of active CRNAs have between one and five years of experience, which looks hopeful for future recruitment. Right now, active CRNAs are at the 50,000+ level, but will have an average age of 48 as of 2018, according to AANA.

The Geography Premier Anesthesia's experience supports the Rand Corporation's research that shortages are regionally based. For instance, upstate New York is one of the most difficult regions for recruiting anesthesia professionals. Premier Anesthesia also has experienced the challenge of recruiting in rural markets versus urban locations. As Rand Corporation found, anesthesiologists more often reside in urban areas. CRNAs split between rural and urban areas. Many Premier clients are in rural locations. The dynamic is unique: Anesthesia Medical Directors (AMD) lead our practice groups, so we often recruit anesthesiologists to rural areas. Such settings may offer candidates potential for upward movement into an AMD position, which they may not have had - in such a timely manner - in their current practices. Strategies So what are the best strategies for recruiting providers? Here's what we've found.

  • Ensure efficiency in your ORs. Anesthesia and perioperative services should keep close watch over OR utilization. Staffing must be constantly measured and allocated as metrics dictate. Many hospitals are overstaffing because of inefficiency.

  • Be realistic about workload during negotiations. We regularly see workweeks for anesthesiologists and CRNAs exceed 40 hours. Build this into the provider agreement.

  • Treat each candidate with the appropriate sense of urgency. Be responsive and ready to roll out the red carpet for the right new hires.

  • Be prepared to make use of locum providers when turnover happens. Locum compensation costs less than closing ORs.

  • Invest in sign-on bonuses. If your facility is in a market where recruitment is tough, bonuses may be what sets you apart.

  • Do your compensation homework. Make sure your packages are current and competitive.

In today's market, Anesthesiologists and CRNAs can afford to be choosy. In addition, our research indicates that newer graduates entering the workforce place a higher priority on work/life balance than their predecessors. With many options, great compensation packages and increased demand, the industry is competitive. A smart strategy for practice group recruitment is more important than ever. References Baird, M., Daugherty, L, Kumar, K. & Arifkhanova, A. (2013). The Anesthesiologist Workforce in 2013. Rand Corporation. Retrieved May 16, 2017 from www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR650.html Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Fact Sheet. (Updated August 26, 2016). American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. Retrieved May 17, 2017 from www.aana.com/ceandeducation/becomeacrna/Pages/Nurse-Anesthetists-at-a-Glance.aspx Daugherty, L., Fonseca, R., Kumar, K., Michaud, P. C. (2010). An Analysis of the Labor Markets for Anesthesiology. Retrieved May 17, 2017 from www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/TR688.html

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