In the neurophysiology department at Houston Methodist Hospital, neurodiagnostic technicians tend to stick around. Amy Reynolds attributes her department’s continued growth and success to the dynamic cross-trained staffing model she and her team developed.

All staff are trained to work in bedside monitoring, ambulatory studies, the outpatient lab, and the epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU). They rotate through these different areas regularly.

This is not typical, Reynolds told us in a recent phone interview. Usually, each of these units has its own dedicated staff.

But when Reynolds arrived at the hospital seven years ago, she said techs were frustrated and burnt out. Standard 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shifts — and one person on call covering weekends, evenings, and time off — caused long patient wait times and lots of overtime.

Staffers knew things needed to change but they didn’t know how. Reynolds knew she could help.

She decided to adjust the shift schedule and added a second daily shift to the afternoons. She also added an overnight shift to cover work from the emergency room.

Reynolds and her team then decided to cross-train all staff, which took a huge burden off the on-call person. The adjusted schedule and ability of technicians to cover multiple clinical areas ended up freeing up staff to increase outpatient booking and perform catch up there.

This staffing model has evolved over time, with regular meetings and problem-solving sessions, Reynolds said. Staff are invested in this model, she believes, because patient coverage is better — but also because there is great benefit for the techs.

Cross-training eliminates boredom and enables professional growth. It gets them ready to take their registries and certifications. Then, technicians can take on more departmental responsibilities and even present at national meetings. All of this helps them grow their career.

This is possible, Reynolds added, because of the career mindset of her staff and their careful hiring and onboarding process. Type A personalities who aren’t looking to take a back seat on their career are prized.

“It makes us incredibly efficient; it means that we are doing a lot more with less,” she said. “Turnover in this department is exceptionally low.”

Special thanks to Amy Reynolds, MBA, Manager for Neurophysiology, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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