A surgeon spends more than a decade in school and residency honing their medical skills, but that training typically does not include human resources training. Yet, when it comes to placing candidates into surgical programs, the hiring responsibilities fall on the surgeons.
Aimee Gardner, who holds a doctorate in organized psychology, saw this inefficiency firsthand.
“I worked in a large surgical ward in Dallas straight out of grad school and quickly learned how people are screened into residency and fellowship programs and all the time that goes into it – the time doctors going through loads and loads of similar paper applications and spending lots and lots of hours interviewing like hundreds of candidates,” Gardner told InnovationMap. “I was really shocked at the inefficiencies of the business and workforce perspective.”
And things only got worse. There are more and more applicants arriving on the scene each year and they are applying to more hospitals and programs. Future surgeons used to apply for around 20 programs – now it’s more like 65 on average. According to his research, Gardner says it costs a lot of time and money to review these applications, particularly $100,000 to fill five positions a year through the interview phase of the process.
Five years ago, Gardner found a solution to this “app fever,” as she describes it, and all the inefficiencies, and founded SurgWise Boardwhere she is President and CEO.
“We help provide assessments to help select skills and attributes that people care about,” says Gardner. “(These) are really hard to assess, but really differentiate between people who really thrive on training in their careers and those who don’t.”
Aimee Gardner is CEO and President of Houston-based SurgWise. Photo via surgwise.com
These are the soft skills, such as professionalism, interpersonal skills and communication. While SurgWise started out as a service-focused consulting company, the company is now ready to leverage technology to develop its solution. Work began at Houston Methodist, and SurgWise still works with surgical teams there. She says they’ve accumulated tons of data that can be mined and streamlined.
“We are now moving from a very intimate client approach to a more scalable offering. Each year, we basically assess about 80% of all people who apply to become future surgeons – those in pediatric surgery, vascular surgery, etc. .,” says Gardner. “We kind of used the last five years of data and experience to create a solution that was more scalable, easy to integrate, and ready to go.”
Gardner says his solution is key to providing more fairness in the hiring process.
“One of our goals was to create more equitable opportunities and platforms to assess people, because many of the traditional tools and processes that most people use in this space have a lot of potential for bias and a strong potential to disadvantage individuals from underrepresented groups,” she said. said. “For example, letters of recommendation are often insider status. If you went to an Ivy League or your parents were in the health care field and they know someone, you have this step from point of networking and socio-economic status.”
Personal statements and test scores are also unfair, as they tend to be better submissions if people have money for coaching.
SurgWise also hopes to reduce the number of programs prospective surgeons apply to in order to further streamline the process. She hopes to achieve this through an app and a web-based tool that can match people with the right program.
“Our ultimate goal is to create a platform where applicants can get a lot more information about the different places they apply to so they can make more informed decisions, so they don’t have to apply at a hundred places,” Gardner “We basically want to build a match-like app that lets them enter data and tell us, ‘this is what I’m looking for, here are my career goals and my preferences. “”
While this tool is on the road, Gardner says SurgWise is ahead of the data-driven hiring platform launch. The startup company hopes to raise venture capital funds this summer to hire and grow its team.
“As we continue to consider this application that I’ve been talking about and some of the other opportunities to move into other specialties, we’ll start looking for Series A funding later this summer.”