The previous experience left us feeling demoralized and undervalued. Anesthetists have a lot of insight into what's working and what's not in the department. But as corporate employees, we didn't have much of a voice.
We figured Vituity would bring more of the same. How wrong we were.
From day one, Vituity was different. The leaders valued anesthetists' experiences and opinions and worked with us to transform our operating room (OR). In today’s post, I’ll share how Vituity made the transition a positive one.
Life as a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant
I became a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (CAA) because I wanted to work directly with patients in a challenging, fast-paced environment. Today as a CAA, I do pre- and post-anesthesiology evaluations, give epidurals, respond to code blues, and carry out the treatment plan set by the anesthesiologist.
In 2002, I started working at Providence Hospital, which follows the anesthesia care team model. Under this arrangement, the anesthesiologist delegates certain patient care tasks to CAAs and nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). We administer the anesthesia and monitor the patient during surgery under the medical direction of an anesthesiologist. The care team model allows an anesthesiologist to direct up to four ORs simultaneously .
Uncertainty About Our Future
When we found out that Vituity was picking up our contract, there was apprehension and anxiety. Our last transition had been really stressful, and we weren't ready to go through it again.
New management brings a lot of unknowns. What would Vituity expect of us? Would salaries and scheduling change for the worse? Also, we knew that Vituity was based in California where the care team model is less common. Would they even keep the anesthetists around? And if so, would they understand our role and value that we bring?
How Vituity Was Different: A Smooth Transition
Fortunately, the Vituity leaders realized that this contract transition was a life-changing event for us providers. At our first meeting, before their start date, they acknowledged how emotional and disruptive the process must be. They were very transparent about their intentions, stating that they were coming in to help us address some of our pain points as a department.
This was actually welcome news, because we knew our surgical services could be doing better. We needed to improve efficiencies in the OR and cut down on cancellations, delays, and billing issues. Our team also needed help nurturing relationships between physicians, anesthetists, and hospital staff.
The previous management group had come in with a preformed plan. We had no input and two choices: adapt or move on.
By contrast, the Vituity mentality was very collaborative. Vice President of Anesthesiology Peter Nosé, MD, along with Cyndy Flores, PA-C, Director of Advanced Provider Strategy and Innovation, flew across the country several times to meet with our team to discuss our concerns. They held Q-and-A sessions for every shift and posted drop-in office hours. They also asked for our feedback and cared what we had to say.
One tough thing about being an anesthetist is seeing problems but not having the authority to fix them. But Dr. Nosé really encouraged us to get involved in improving our department. He genuinely wanted to hear our perspective about what was working and what wasn’t.
That was such a game changer for us. We knew that if a VP and Director were taking time to listen, Vituity would be different.
A Personal Touch
Another thing we immediately loved about Vituity was that the new leadership made such an effort to get to know us providers. They held social events to help us bond as a team and open the doors of communication. One small detail made a big impression: At orientation, each of us received an HR folder with our name on it.
The previous corporate group hadn't bothered much with names. Nor had they differentiated between the needs of CAAs and CRNAs. They'd just bundled all advanced providers under a single CRNA umbrella. But with Vituity, we were delighted to receive paperwork and welcome materials tailored to us individually.
Vituity's compensation packages were equitable, fair, and flexible regarding individual needs. Before the contract change, I'd been considering reducing my hours to part-time. As it turns out, Vituity's full-time anesthetist contracts are 30 hours per week. This was ideal for me, allowing me to work fewer hours without losing full-time status and benefits.
Overall, the level of support we've received has been exceptional. Dr. Nosé, Cyndy Flores, and the other leaders are understandably super busy. However, they always return calls and are available for questions and feedback. I'd have never dreamed of having that kind of connection and accessibility in our previous corporate group.
Leadership Opportunities for Advanced Providers
From day one, anesthesiologists and anesthetists were encouraged to get involved with Vituity on the organizational level. Even though we had just joined, our leaders invited us to Vituity's annual conference, their biggest educational and networking event of the year. Not just to attend, but to talk about our hospital, our care team model, and our best practices and lessons learned.
Much to my delight, I was invited to present at the anesthesia practice line’s business meeting, introducing anesthesiologist assistants and the care team model. I also attended a dinner for anesthesiology providers, where I met some fantastic people from across the country. Through my new connections, I was invited to join Vituity's Advocacy Committee, becoming the first advanced provider to do so.
Overall, our anesthesiology department's transition to Vituity has gone very well. We’ve retained most of our providers and welcomed some new ones. A year later, we are fully staffed with enthusiastic providers who are at the top of their game.
Under Vituity management, we've increased OR efficiency and decreased our surgery cancellations. Surgeon and nurse satisfaction is up, and we're working steadily through our billing issues. We’re also in the midst of developing a new pre-op clinic, which helps prepare patients while preventing delays and cancellations.
It’s been wonderful joining the Vituity team. We’ve made significant progress at our site. A lot of doors have opened for me professionally through the connections I've made. I’m excited to work on the pre-op clinic and can’t wait to see the progress we’ll make!