Being in a leadership position is, for lack of a better word-challenging. But, no offense to those non-surgical leaders, who may start their day at say, some late hour like 8:30, and then maybe actually go to a restaurant for lunch, or grab a call from home, surgical leaders are the superheroes of leaders. We go in early, often eat when we can, at our desks, and cover lates. We mop floors and help turnover. We are the IT department, the HR department, regulatory and compliance support, customer service, department manager, supervisor, and staff relief. We are occasional housekeepers, security (always fun), and reception. The list is not on the job description. I remember at the beginning of my surgical leadership career, on a very busy surgical day, having significant computer problems affecting the center. I had left a message for IT support at the corporate office (the center was partnered with one of the big players), and when they called back to (finally) help, they asked me to put on the person who manages IT. I was feeling both frustrated and spunky, asked them to hold, put the phone down for a moment, and got back on and said something politely snarky to get the message across that, I wore that hat, and they would need to work with me and my basic computer skills to get the problem fixed.
I’ve had the opportunity recently to work with some new surgical leaders. Their capes are new and pretty, without patches, or frays or stains, freshly washed. I recently asked two of them about their perception of their biggest challenges. I’m not using their names to protect their superhero identities.
One of my new leaders was an RN and a first assist, and was recruited to her new role by a physician who recognized her leadership potential. She describes her biggest challenges as managing and training staff and staying focused and getting everything done while “being pulled in different directions”. Her biggest fears are missing or forgetting something that could affect operations or worse, patient safety. She’s finding her place well, and is learning the balance between being supportive and hands on, and finding time to get the administrative tasks done as well. She doesn’t want to be “that manager who never leaves their office”as she she has worked under these types of leaders.
One of my other new leaders met his current Medical Director while waiting tables in a restaurant he frequented. The physician encouraged him to go back to college, and hired him after he graduated. He is doing an amazing job and has all the right qualities to be a great leader, and is growing his skills well. Here’s what he told me:
“The first challenge involves time management. While time management to an RN is nothing new, as a supervisor I have to take into account weekly, quarterly and even annual tasks for the ASC to remain compliant and operational. Time management including proper preparation, execution and follow up… balanced with long term tasks…are components requiring proper record keeping and organization.”
His second identified challenge is staffing. “Currently, our facility utilizes agency personnel to help staff our nursing and OR tech needs until we can be fully staffed (his is a new center). While these professionals are excellent resources, they are essentially new that need frequent orientation.”
They are both doing an amazing job. I love that I am able to teach and support them as they grow their experience. If you are like me, and have patches and frays on your cape, and have an opportunity to mentor a new surgical leader, I encourage you to do so. The industry is growing and current leadership is aging, and we need to support new leadership in this industry. My new leaders both stated that it made their roles easier to have a mentor, If you are new at this, I hope you can find a mentor with good needle and thread to support you as you put on your cape every day. If you are an experienced leader, don your patched and tattered cape proudly, and mentor a fledgling superleader.
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If you have a great mentoring story, I’d love to hear it! Share it in the comments below! Thanks for reading!