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Break "the Rule": Why the Two-Week Notice is Not Your Friend in CS/SPD

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

So it's been a while since I've posted anything overtly controversial, but this article may reset that counter back to "0 Days without a Controversy".

Today, I want to talk about quitters. Unless your name is Arlene Scisney (a 30-year veteran instrument tech at Jewish Hospital SPD), chances are high that you have worked at more than one Sterile Processing department in your illustrious career. And if that's the case, and you were a technician, you probably followed the "two-week notice" rule with all professional diligence and due regard. You interviewed elsewhere, got an offer, accepted, and then waited until 14 days from your new start date to hand in your letter of resignation to the appropriate party. I mean, that's what you're supposed to do, right? Well, I'm going to spend the rest of this post to say, "NO!"

The Mythical Elephant in the Room: Last and Least

Although it is true that most HR departments and industry standards request a minimum of two-week notice for resignations, the key word in that is not "two weeks," it's "minimum."

If your goal is to grow in the Sterile Processing industry (and let's just assume it is for the purposes of this post), every decision you make at work becomes a part of your living-resume, also known as your professional reputation. And, although it is true that most HR departments and industry standards request a minimum of two-week notice for resignations, the key word in that is not "two weeks," it's "minimum." The very least that you can do as an SPD professional is to give your leader a 14-day heads up that you'll be leaving the reservation. But do you do that in the rest of your professional life? The absolute least? Do you want to be known as the guy/gal who does just enough to get by, but nothing more?

If at all possible, although you may be leaving your current organization, you should do so in a way that does not unduly burden or handicap the team you leave behind. The elephant in the resignation room is that two-weeks in our world is rarely enough time for SPD leaders to do anything (except cry) about your departure. There are more things to consider than how quickly you can move on to the next big thing.

A Slow Goodbye: Why Professional Courtesy Pays

While timelines vary across facilities, I know of zero Sterile Processing departments in our country who can interview, offer, hire, and onboard in fourteen days. A more conservative figure would put a position turnaround time at around two-months (and that's if your position gets approved to re-post at all). So, typical staffing holes can last anywhere from six-weeks on up to multiple months, which is one reason why traveling SPD techs are such a hot commodity these days.

Knowing all this, I believe the two-week notification rule should be a worst-case scenario for Sterile Processing technicians who value professional courtesy and long-term industry relationships. Yes, there are circumstances where your current situation may be so volatile that fourteen days is all you can possibly stomach with your present employer. I realize there are leaders and technicians out there who (unfortunately) would make it hard on someone who decided to leave. That being said, I think the vast majority of us would not only appreciate a slower goodbye from technicians who are moving on, we would see it as a valuable professional courtesy.

Although I don't have a magic number in mind for how much notice is "enough," the best thing you can do is be transparent with your leader, as early as possible about your decision to consider leaving. By doing so, you are signaling to your current boss, your future employer, and your professional peers that you value their needs and understand their challenges during this time of your vocational transition -- and thereby earn their respect and their thanks. Will it always be an easy, enjoyable experience? Probably not. But will it be worth it in the long run? Yes it will - every time, and in more ways than one.

Now, you're officially on notice. If you're going to break your boss' heart, you should also break "the rule!"

That's what I think. What say you?

Hank Balch

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