(Note: The following post was written last spring when work was slow)
Here is a good article I found in the May, 2010, issue of AARC Times, "Is Your Job Recession Proof?" by Sam P. Giordano. One would think any job in the medical field would be recession proof, what with the continued need for medical care and all. You're always going to have sick people.
Yet where I work the patient load is excessively low, and has been so for quite some time. It's been so low lately that few in my department have been able to get all their hours. While mostly we have two RTs during the day and one at night, recently one day person has had to stay home, or the three of us have had to split the day into 8 hour segments.
Actually, it's so bad right now that one of the RTs who's supposed to work tomorrow is going to work in another department doing a one-on-one. It's right now to the point that some of us are starting to worry if our jobs are safe. Is it time, perhaps, to budget one less person during the day? If that happens, this RT would be back on nights, if he didn't get laid off.
Other hospitals in this region, including the larger hospitals, are also facing a decreasing patient load. I think there are viable reasons for it, as with the recession fewer people are having elective procedures. And, I bet, that many are staying home with chest pains and abdominal pains. One can only think that while it's slow now, all these people might just decide to crash all at once, and we'll go from excessively slow to swamped.
Yet that is yet to be seen. The unpredictability of the medical field is being felt right now.
Yet, as Giordano notes, there are a lot of people losing their jobs, and with losing their jobs their health care coverage. This, coupled with increasing technology that is increasingly more expensive, and increasing health care wages, makes the burden of management tougher. Every department is being asked to make cuts.
So, increased cost, and decreased demand results in less profit. How long can the current level be maintained? Giordano writes, "Many persons concerned about keeping their head above water financially forgo both necessary and elected health care interventions. More still stop seeing their physicians. These dynamics create a ripple effect, and that effect has hit many a health care provider or institutions that were already on thin ice (financially speaking) and caused them to make immediate and profound cuts in their expenditures."
Actually, Giordano notes that most RT Caves do a great job of cutting costs and being efficient, especially those with RT Driven protocols, and efforts to cut back on nosocomial infections, such as VAP (Ventilator Acquired Pneumonia) to decrease length of stay and cut costs. So we're doing good there. VAP rates here at Shoreline are ZERO, and have been there for over five years in a row.
Another thing he writes about that might help us RTs is helping the AARC push for a Medicare Part B initiative that will allow RTs to be employed outside the hospital by physicians. He writes, "This will create new job opportunities and permit us to be more accessible to our patients while avoiding an expensive emergency department or hospital admission in order to do so."
By RTs being in touch with patients in doctors offices, we will be better able to prepare them about their illness and help educate them how they can stay healthy and at home instead of in the emergency room and admitted in the hospital all the time. He writes that respiratory conditions are in the top seven reasons why patients are readmitted to hosiptals. RT being involved with these patients can only make it better for them, and us to.
Bottom line: "Indeed, the healthcare sector is not as badly bruised as the rest of our economy. However," he writes, "over the last several decades we've adopted more business-like practices, which is a good thing in most respects. Just like businesses do, we as employees must not only contribute to the bottom line and ensure the financial success of our employers, but we must document how we do it and look for new ways to expand our value while working with our patient."
So this is an even greater reason to continue being professional, not complaining, going out of your way to find new ways to benefit your department and thus your patients, to improve outcomes, and improve costs. In the end, you might be saving your own job.
(Note: It is no longer slow at work. As of right now most hospitals in this region of Michigan are busy. Yet how long will it last?)