Proper staffing in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) is crucial for ensuring high-quality patient care, safety, and efficient operations. Adequate staffing levels with the right mix of skills allow for personalized client attention, reduced wait times, and improved surgical outcomes. When you have the right staff members, you can support a collaborative work environment, enhancing team dynamics and job satisfaction in your surgery center.

Optimizing staffing in ASCs is essential for meeting regulatory requirements, minimizing complications, and ensuring the financial viability of the surgery center by maximizing operational efficiency and patient throughput. Unfortunately, meeting and maintaining staffing needs at your surgery center can be a challenge, given the increasing shortage of qualified healthcare workers and the schedule that comes with the job. Below, we discuss the staff members required for ambulatory surgery centers and strategies for overcoming staffing challenges so you can provide high-quality care in an efficient manner.

Understanding Staffing Requirements for Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Every ambulatory surgery center should have the correct number of staff members to deliver safe, quality healthcare services to patients. The number of employees you need depends greatly on the facility you’re running, the procedures your surgeons are performing, how many patients you’re treating at once, the type of equipment you have, and more. For example, a surgical center with one person performing only a couple of procedures per day will need fewer staff members than major outpatient hospitals responsible for dozens of patients receiving numerous services at once.

To ensure that your specific outpatient hospital or private facility has a sufficient number of employees on duty, the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) offers the following staff-member ratio recommendations that you can use as a guideline:

  • 1:1 surgeon-to-patient ratio in the operating room
  • 1:1 anesthesiologist-to-patient ratio
  • 1:1 registered nurse (RN)-to-patient ratio
  • 2:1 patients per licensed practical nurse (LPN) or certified nursing assistant (CNA) ratio
  • 1:1 surgical technician-to-surgeon ratio


Keep in mind that these ratios should only act as guidelines. For example, if your current staff struggles with tasks like prepping and cleaning equipment, you may need more surgical technicians.

According to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA), you must have at least one RN on staff whenever you have a patient at your facility. The RN should be trained to manage emergency situations.

Key Roles and Responsibilities in Ambulatory Surgery Staffing

Whether you’re an executive director looking for new hires or are simply working in healthcare management and interested in the different roles in an outpatient hospital, you’ve come to the right place. Each employee in an ambulatory surgery hospital setting plays a key role in maintaining a safe, efficient environment for patients.

Staffing Essentials for Ambulatory Surgical Procedures

The essential employees during any ambulatory surgical procedures typically include the following:

  • Surgeons: Surgeons perform specific procedures on patients. Like physicians, surgeons must be licensed, certified, and highly trained to provide surgical services.
  • Anesthesiologists: Anesthesiologists administer sedatives and anesthesia to patients prior to their procedures. Anesthesia can be one of the riskiest aspects of undergoing surgery, so anyone working with it must undergo rigorous training to mitigate risks.
  • Surgical nurses: Surgical nurses care for the patient before, during, and after the surgery.
  • Surgical techs: Surgical technicians and assistants aid the surgery team and nurses by creating a sterile environment, prepping all tools, passing tools, and more to ensure that everything flows smoothly.
  • Administrative staff: Managers and administrator teams oversee the organization, ensuring everyone completes their job correctly.
  • Support staff: Support teams handle daily work, like maintenance jobs, housekeeping, and sterile processing, to keep the practice in good shape throughout the week.


Ambulatory Surgery Nursing Staff Members: A Closer Look

We briefly mentioned surgical nurses, though this role requires a closer look. Your organization will need an RN on staff at all times that a patient is in the building, so you must carefully understand the roles, responsibilities, and qualifications of ASC nurses.

To become an ASC nursing employee, one must acquire an RN and complete clinical hours in an ambulatory surgery setting. If you’re looking for a new employee to fill this role, ensure they’re a licensed RN with the appropriate experience.

ASC RNs play a critical role as they’re in charge of prepping patients for their procedures. The RN will explain to the individual what they can expect, assess their condition, administer various medications (excluding anesthesia), and offer support services during the surgery. Once the individual wakes up, the RN provides post-operative care, tending to their needs and ensuring they understand their treatment plan.

Strategies for Overcoming Staffing Challenges

Here are some strategies for overcoming common staffing challenges:

  • Recruitment strategies: If you’re struggling to recruit employees because of worker shortages and other complications, consider offering appealing benefits such as a staff-centered workplace, high-value onboarding, competitive pay, and continuing education perks.
  • Retention strategies: Retaining your current team is vital but not always easy, considering the high burnout rates in healthcare. To prevent employee burnout, provide your team with a strong work-life balance, flexible scheduling options, and great communication so that they feel empowered to support each other.
  • Scheduling strategies: Even when you have the right staff in place, you may face challenges if you overbook your schedule, leading to high patient ratios. To avoid this, consider implementing an intelligent scheduling platform synced with your staffing requirements.


Implementing Technology for Staffing Efficiency

A great way to boost staffing efficiency is to leverage technology, like scheduling software and communication platforms, to streamline manual processes. Doing so frees teams to focus on more complex, client-oriented matters for personalized care. Weave offers ambulatory surgery center software that can streamline the intake process, appointment scheduling, payment processing, EHR updates, and more.

Weave: Helping You Improve Patient Care and Operational Efficiency

Understanding and effectively meeting ASC staffing needs keeps your patients safe and your organization efficient. To streamline your operations further, get a demo of Weave’s communication platform today to see how we can support your staffing and operational needs for a more fully integrated workflow.

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