Strategies for Central Sterile Retention and Recruitment

Central Sterile (CS) is the foundation of surgical and procedural area programs within hospitals, ASC’s and clinical arenas. Yet CS departments struggle with staff retention and finding qualified candidates for employment. How can perioperative leaders support the foundation of their program to enhance service, ensure safe patient care and outcomes? It is essential that we understand the CS technician and their role while creating retention strategies to stabilize the department and recruiting strategies to find new staff.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Surgical Directions' website.

The CS technician role has evolved over the years. Many long-term staff were hired and trained within the department. Many of these staff members have never been formally schooled. These staff members often fear the certification process and are intimidated by the testing process. As advances in sterile processing have evolved, certification and education requirements have also advanced as well. Currently some states require certification, which has had the effect of pushing many excellent staff out of the CS departments. These workers can be retained through providing a hands-on program to guide them through the study and testing process. While cost containment is naturally important, for some employees digitally-based distance learning is difficult, so they may need other tools to be successful. Whatever education tools are used, teaching these workers the “why” of the processes will facilitate their success. When hiring new staff who have not completed an education program, a mentorship and coaching program needs to be in place to support their learning. Guiding the staff through each phase of CS with the support of resources will help yield successful, long-term employees.

Other retention processes are key for retaining staff. A manager must recognize and reward their progress. Opportunities to improve skills and earn higher wages is a strong motivator, so develop a tiered CS role program using carefully designed job descriptions. For example, begin with an entry-level role such as “CS Specialist,” and then build up other roles from there: Certified Technician, Lead, Educator, and so on, through Manager. Establish annual goals to drive their interest in advancement. Empower them to improve processes and share the results with the team.  Celebrate the successes of the staff and recognize their accomplishments, as this is an essential component of team building.  Click here to continue>>


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