by William Prentice

Reading the latest news headlines or listening to the association in the U.S. that most popular television and radio talk shows, it would be easy to conclude that the only important news about healthcare in the U.S. today is how everyone is adapting to President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, ways to control skyrocketing costs and the occasional, highly publicized lapses in care that put patients at risk. In reality – while public policy, cost control and patient safety all are significant concerns – there are many other important stories behind the healthcare available in the U.S. today that often go unnoticed in the media. One of these is the continuing commitment that healthcare professionals, like those of you who read this magazine, have made to improving the patient care that you provide each day by continually seeking out continuing education opportunities that help you keep your skills current and master new tools and techniques that can lead to improvement.

The careful research and study that goes into providing high quality continuing education programs for healthcare professionals doesn’t often make headlines. When it does, those news reports can be misleading or too abbreviated to give you the information you need to make meaningful changes in the care you provide. As a result, whether you work in a hospital, an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), a physician’s office or some other healthcare setting, your patients may not give much thought to how you acquire the new skills and information that you need. They also might not recognize that because you enrolled in additional training, you now have a new process or policy in place that makes their visit to your facility more comfortable or improves their recovery once they return home. They just want and expect the best. It is up to you to determine how to meet their expectations, and finding the right continuing education opportunities to help can be a challenge.

Because hospitals continue to perform more surgeries in the U.S. each year than ASCs, ASCs face an additional obstacle to finding the continuing education tools that they need. Many companies who provide these tools develop resources targeted to the larger hospital market where they expect their sales to be higher. While much of the information and training that these programs contain can be applied in either the hospital or ASC setting, some cannot, and quickly identifying the areas where the hospital information does not apply can be difficult or impossible.

This year, to help ASCs access the staff training resources that they need, ASCA partnered with HealthStream to develop an online training series specifically for ASCs. HealthStream has long been a leading provider of top quality training resources for health professionals and supports more than 70,000 online course completions and 100,000 student log-ins every day, all from within the healthcare community. ASCA is the only national association in the U.S. that represents the interests of all ASCs, regardless of the specialties that they serve. Its members include many of the top experts in ASC management today. Combining our experience and expertise, ASCA and HealthStream are preparing to offer a state-of-the-art ASC staff training series that is not available from any other source. Wherever possible, this series also offers continuing education credit for nurses.

Some of the topics that this new training series covers include:
• Providing culturally competent care;
• Identifying and assessing victims of domestic abuse;
• General safety concerns in ASCs;
• Postoperative pain management in ambulatory surgery;
• Preventing fires in the operating room;
• Safely administering medications;
• Understanding antibiotic resistance; and
• Infection prevention.

Through our partnership with HealthStream, we are able to offer these training programs at a nominal cost that would allow nurses in your ASC to earn continuing education for under $2 per unit. If you work in an ASC, you can use the series to help orient new staff, assist in meeting annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and accreditation requirements, assist in the assessment of competency, engage all of your team members in improving the quality of care your ASC provides, adapt to changing technology and techniques and achieve top outcomes in your clinical and business operations. It can also help you deliver consistent, reliable information to your ASC’s staff, provide convenient access to selfdirected learning opportunities 24/7, cut costs while improving trainee satisfaction levels and obtain continuing education credit for nurses.

Your ASC’s ability to tap into high-quality continuing education opportunities for your staff may not be a visible priority for your patients and is not likely to soon replace news from Hollywood, public scandals or even the latest weight loss miracles as the top news headline of the day, but for your ASC, it is essential. Find out more about ASCA’s new staff training series and its release date at www.ascassociation.org/trainingseries.

William Prentice is the Chief Executive Officer of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.