I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say we all are feeling the effects of workforce challenges. This includes witnessing or even experiencing health care professional burnout, staff shortages, a backlog of elective surgeries and procedures, reduced OR capacity, and more.

Health care executives (HCEs) like me are keenly aware of these challenges and how they impact the bottom line of hospitals and health systems. For example, an annual survey from the American College of Healthcare Executives found that workforce challenges are the number-one issue concerning hospital executives (asamonitor.pub/468MaAQ).

Clearly, no one is immune, and each institution faces unique challenges. While there’s no quick fix or “magic wand,” hospitals and health systems still must identify and implement innovative solutions to meet current and future patient surgical and procedural demand, maintain quality outcomes, and generate revenue so they can continue to care for their communities.

This is where our specialty can provide some help. As perioperative leaders, we bring versatility and innovation to our hospitals and health systems and play an important role in bridging medical and surgical specialties. We align with the interests of HCEs to effectively manage the perioperative process and focus on the collective interests of the hospital and the best use of restrained resources.

As I wrote in the September 2023 ASA Monitor, not all HCEs recognize our leadership and the value we bring to hospitals and health systems beyond the expected “safe, high-quality anesthesia services.” That’s why ASA recently and proactively promoted the specialty and the role we play in addressing this critical issue with HCEs through a partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA). This partnership resulted in an e-book published on the ASA and AHA websites, promoted through digital advertising to HCEs and an AHA “Bringing Value” podcast (asamonitor.pub/42Ar6ks; sponsor.aha.org/associate-program/podcasts). Both explore the topic of workforce challenges and how anesthesiologists are leading the way in identifying solutions.

Our role as leaders does not stop there. ASA is pleased to offer new resources within the “Be the Solution: Sell Your C-Suite on the Value and Leadership of Anesthesiologists” program. Additionally, ASA has published a sponsored article in Modern Healthcare that I developed with ASA President Elect Ronald L. Harter, MD, FASA, discussing how our specialty is advancing short- and long-term solutions to the issue. This article was also repurposed into a white paper available as a download on the ASA website.

ASA’s Be the Solution program includes action steps you can take to engage with your hospital or health system leaders on topics such as controlling costs and maximizing the institution’s financial health, innovation and leadership during COVID-19, addressing health equity, and now solutions to workforce challenges. The program and toolkit materials were developed by a working group of anesthesiologists who are HCEs themselves, and the new materials on workforce challenges by members of the ASA Workforce Taskforce.

While it may seem overwhelming to have one more thing to do, you can help address workforce challenges by partnering with and obtaining buy-in from HCEs to foster the development of solutions based on the best use of resources, while creatively challenging the status quo to find safe and effective alternatives to the provision of care.

The action steps featured in the new Be the Solution toolkit materials highlight some ways you can work with your institution on short-term solutions, including creating a plan based on your hospital’s priorities and resources, and focusing on improving efficiency, scheduling, and predictability. The toolkit also notes some of the ways you can partner with ASA, HCEs, and policymakers on long-term solutions, and it provides helpful resources you can reference for additional information.