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One Voice: Building The Standard Of Care Model

One Voice: Building The Standard Of Care Model

By Ron Brewer RNFA, Owner, First Assist Surgical Team LLC: Like many of you, my journey to become a First Assist began when I became a Certified Surgical Tech and eventually became a nurse working in the OR. As my training progressed, I decided my ultimate goal was to become an independent RNFA. That goal was achieved in 2003. Seven years later, in 2011, I created a company that mimicked and reflected my own success. I created First Assist Surgical Team and actively sought out my fellow OR equals to provide a service that benefited both hospitals and surgeons. Seventeen hospitals and two states later, our formula has proven to be successful.

There are two things that have become evident to me while expanding our business. 1) Once hospitals and physicians are introduced to the benefits a qualified First Assist Program brings to their operating room, word gets around and other physicians and hospitals want to utilize the service and the demand increases; and 2) The demand is much higher than the supply. I am on a constant search for quality first assistants to fill this ever growing demand.

My team includes a top notch group of CRNFA’s, CSFA’s, and SA-C’s. As a team, we all work together for the one common goal of providing the consummate First Assist experience to the hospitals and surgeons who utilize our service. Now, because of our strong commitment to the team concept, we are continually approached by new hospitals and physicians seeking to benefit from our services.

When looking for a First Assist, the hospitals and surgeons are looking for quality of work, professionalism, knowledge, and experience. It is important to note that at no time has a surgeon or a hospital asked me to separate my team into certification categories so as to express a preference for a certain category.

Industry wide, we have become specialists. And as specialists, we have all gone through the appropriate certifying organizations for recognition of our expertise. However, in our effort to become specialists, we have become fragmented by either certification or surgical expertise rather than realizing we are all ONE in the same; and that is the problem we face today. With this in mind, it becomes clear we need to work together, as a collective group, for local, state, and national recognition.

The answer is to make a well-trained and certified Surgical First Assist the “Standard of Care” in cases where a first assistant is needed. Currently, the credentials that satisfy this Standard of Care are CRNFA, CSFA, SA-C, or CSA (also PA’s and NP’s with First Assist training).

It is crucial that OR staff and others are guided by standards of care in proper methods so they can provide the best possible care and outcomes for patients who put the ultimate faith in their caregivers. Standards of care dictate everything from: dress, time outs, which professionals should be in the room for certain procedures, etc. It is a Standard of Care to have an RN circulate, not a tech. It is a Standard of Care to have a CRNA give anesthesia, not an anesthesia tech. It is a Standard of Care to have a certified perfusionist run the pump on a heart case, not the OR nurse. We must promote a Standard of Care that requires a qualified First Assistant, not an “extra tech or nurse,” provide first assist services.

Once the trained and certified First Assistant is recognized as the Standard of Care in the OR, then organizations such as American Hospital Association and the multiple Doctors Associations will recognize our collective profession as an entity who should be recognized by our state and federal governments.

The bottom line is this: we have all been so busy getting our certifications, learning surgeon specific needs, and meeting hospital desires, we forgot to look out for ourselves and the important part we play in the industry. First Assists are an individual industry, just like MD’s and PA’s, and we need and deserve that same acknowledgement.

So I am issuing a challenge to you, companies like mine, and certifying entities to ban together and demand our service to the industry be recognized, acknowledged as the Standard of Care and paid fairly by employers and health insurance companies for our higher level of training, expertise, and professional liability. It is time for all First Assists, regardless of certification or specialty, to ask our surgeons and hospital affiliations to stand with us and support us in the goal of professional recognition.

Until we do this as a collective group, the insurance industry and other parties will continue to wrongfully minimize our contribution to the surgical process and patient outcomes. More importantly, First Assists are the perfect standard bearers to represent and promote our “Standard of Care.” A recognized and thriving First Assist industry is one element of healthcare that can act as a catalyst to make the OR economically viable now and into the future. We already know this to be true. Now it is time to bring this message to the entities that affect us.

Now that you have read and digested the Standard of Care concept I presented above, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. How we can turn this concept into a mechanism for change First Assists around the country can use to make their role as standard bearers more productive and effective? We look forward to reading your comments with enthusiasm.

Are you interested in becoming a Surgical Assistant? Contact ACE Surgical Assisting today to request more information and to learn more about advancing your career.