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Manager of Ambulatory Surgery: Improving the Outpatient Experience

A job as a manager of ambulatory surgery provides a good opportunity for RNs who are looking to advance their careers. This position requires experience and knowledge of the daily operations of an ambulatory surgery center. Managers working in this environment need to be able to make effective decisions, analyze information, and motivate and lead others.

What Does a Manager of Ambulatory Surgery Do?

An ambulatory care center provides outpatient surgery, pain management and diagnostic procedures. Other common names for an ambulatory care center are surgi-center or outpatient surgery center. A manager of ambulatory surgery is responsible for directing and supervising the operations of the center. In addition to possessing clinical knowledge, a manager of ambulatory surgery needs to have strong administrative skills in order to plan, direct and coordinate the delivery of patient care. Individuals in this role may also be called on to improve workflow efficiency.

A manager of ambulatory surgery fulfills many other day-to-day duties, including:

  • Train and recruit employees
  • Monitor and evaluate performance
  • Ensure operational productivity
  • Plan departmental budgets
  • Maintain inventory and supplies
  • Work closely with administration and senior management to ensure compliance with regulatory agencies
  • Assure quality patient care and a positive work environment

What Skills Do You Need For This Job?

Employers look for candidates with a nursing degree, knowledge of ambulatory surgery procedures, an in-depth understanding of the healthcare system and proven leadership qualities. Applicants should be a licensed RN with operating room experience, and possess strong negotiation skills and flexibility, as this position requires interacting with many different types of people.

In addition, employers seek the following qualities in a manager of ambulatory surgery:

  • Prior surgical experience
  • Advanced medical knowledge
  • Strong problem-solving, analytical skills and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively with patients and staff
  • Talent for motivating teams and individuals to accomplish goals

Preparing for a Career as a Manager of Ambulatory Surgery

RNs within with surgical experience have the opportunity to be promoted to manager of ambulatory surgery. For most health services management positions, candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Many employers prefer applicants to have a master’s degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and prior ambulatory surgery center experience. Since health services managers need to be prepared to handle technology innovations, changes in healthcare delivery systems and complicated regulatory environments, candidates with advanced degrees will have the best job opportunities.

What Type of Salary Can You Expect?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual income for all medical and health services managers was $81,850 in May 2009, with the middle 50% earning between $63,700 and $105,980. Salaries ranged from a low of $49,750 to a high of $140,300. National salary data on Indeed.com indicated that managers of ambulatory surgery had an average salary of $115,000 per year as of October 2010.

Job Outlook

The BLS reports in the 2010-11 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook that the job outlook for health services managers remains strong, with employment in nursing and healthcare administration predicted to grow faster than all other occupations. The most sought-after management and administrative opportunities will typically go to experienced RNs with at least a BSN or, more commonly, an MSN degree. Employers generally prefer a strong clinical background, leadership and management experience, and an advanced degree. Nurses possessing these qualifications have the opportunity to go far as a manager of ambulatory surgery.

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