Tighten the Belt

It seems like healthcare is in a never ending cycle to cut cost and “see what you can do without…for now.” That “for now” statement usually turns into forever and it begs the question as a supervisor/manager, “Should I really tell them what I can do without for fear of losing it forever?” What seems to always happen is goals become increased and the resources needed to attain those goals become decreased.

Here is where my MBA kicks in and says, “Wait, tightening the belt is and always will be a band aid. Shouldn’t we be concentrating on GROWING?” In business, which healthcare most certainly is, we survive only if we keep growing, and I have witnessed how not growing dooms an entity. So why do very smart people concentrate so much on items that make little impact when the real solution is going out and getting new business?

A lot of people are afraid of new, or have a low tolerance for risk. Going out and getting new business is always risky and staying within your walls is safe. It’s easy to tell someone that they can do without something because it’s familiar. It is much more difficult to say “what could we do here that we aren’t already doing?” Growing takes ideas manifested from nothing, cutting just takes a look what is already in front of you.

Another challenge is getting support to fill positions that you have been doing without for long periods of time. On paper it may look like your department is doing a lot with very little. What the paper doesn’t tell you is that your employees are stretched to the extreme because without overtime and part time people working full time hours, you wouldn’t be able to survive.

Looking forward we will be forced to find new technologists that will be able to take our places. This is becoming more difficult as well with more and more technicians graduating and a lack of technologists. I have mentioned this before but the program I graduated from no longer exists and this isn’t rare. It will become vital to partner up with schools to keep pipelines open for future employees and leaders.

Looking forward it is going to take brave leaders to not only take on all of the challenges above but to resist pressures from above to keep cutting. It will be up to you to come up with ideas of new business to keep growing. Go outside your four walls and you will be surprised how much is out there ripe for the taking. Ask any Fortune 500 company or any company that has had an IPO in the last 5 years. Growth is the only way you survive. Summer is on its way and everyone wants to look good. We try to lose weight so we can tighten the belt, but if you ask me, muscle looks better than being skinny.



Matthew Herasuta, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM is a medical laboratory scientist who works as a generalist and serves as the Blood Bank and General Supervisor for the regional Euclid Hospital in Cleveland, OH.

One thought on “Tighten the Belt”

  1. Although I have not had managerial experience, I have worked twenty-one years in microbiology and have experienced first-hand as most technologists have the tendency of employers to hire part-timers instead of full in order to not have to pay as much in benefits and to not have to pay them overtime. At one hospital in particular, as part-timers, if we clocked out one minute over forty hours, we were reprimanded but if we refused any extra hours we were seen as ‘problem employees’. Of course, this was not on the books and was behind closed doors but the message was clear. And, I can’t completely hold the employer responsible because the number of qualified applicants they have to choose from is dwindling. As you said, so many schools offering a degree in medical technology are becoming few and far between. Are we a dying breed? And how can these employers look outside the box to bring in new clients when they can’t handle their current load?

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