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Susan Salka

CEO, AMN Healthcare Services Inc.

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Some 24 years into her career at AMN Healthcare Services Inc., President and CEO Susan Salka still feels “blessed and fortunate” to be with the health care staffing company, even as new and greater challenges face the health care industry.

AMN Healthcare’s recent research shows that 78 percent of hospital executives see a nationwide shortage of physicians.

As health care professionals age and retire, the patient population is also aging and, therefore, requiring more health care services. Factor in an expected influx of patients newly insured through the Affordable Care Act, and, Salka said, it’s like “adding jet fuel to a fire.”

Hospitals are adjusting the models they use to deliver patient care, and often need help determining how best to staff their facilities while “running very lean” and ensuring “each clinician is working to the top of their skill set,” Salka said.

That’s where AMN can offer its expertise.

“We can help fill the gaps,” she said. “The last thing you want is an understaffed hospital.”

AMN Healthcare Services Inc. (NYSE: AHS) is the largest health care staffing company in the nation, and one of the largest public companies in the San Diego region. It recruits health care professionals and places them in temporary and permanent jobs, and in settings including hospitals, clinics and government facilities.

AMN also has workforce programs in an area called managed services, in which it helps health care organizations streamline how they manage vendors and contracts, staffing schedules, job applicant processes, timekeeping and billing.

Working with health care organizations’ varied needs means AMN has to be an expert on every aspect of the business, from software systems to continuing education.

“As we move forward, we will always be a staffing organization at our core, but we need to continue to evolve our workforce solutions,” Salka said.

The health care staffing industry is becoming less fragmented as demand grows, Salka said, but AMN still holds a little more than 10 percent market share.

AMN’s third-quarter 2013 consolidated revenues were $257 million, up 5 percent over third-quarter 2012, with cash and cash equivalents valued at about $32 million.

Salka said AMN is able to leverage its work with the health care industry to do greater good in the community, whether for patients or the philanthropic organizations.

“One of the things I am most proud of with this company is the culture of this organization and its values,” she said. “It what keeps us going strong through any market environment, this desire to help others.”

Salka recently traveled to Guatemala with Addison, Texas-based nonprofit Helps International as part of a program that provides basic health care and installs indoor stoves for needy families. She said it was a life-changing trip.

“For really very little effort on our part, it made such a huge impact,” Salka said.

“We care about each other and the work we do,” she said. “It’s not just some motto on the wall. You see it in people’s decisions and actions.”

-McEntee is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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