7 Tips to Help Physicians Grow at a Practice
As a seasoned professional, you’ve developed an impressive skill set over the years. Now it may be time to think about passing on your knowledge to the younger generation of physicians. There’s ever-increasing value that comes with making such an investment. Actively helping them to develop will grow the practice, encourage the highest level of patient treatment, and contribute to your organization’s overall performance. Read on for a few action items to consider.
1. Improve your listening skills
To build a patient-centered practice, your physicians must be expert listeners. “In an era where we have endless super-specialized physicians you’ll often see a patient sent to multiple physicians where each one tells the patient that they ‘don’t have a disease in my specialty.’ These physicians often feel no obligation to tell the patient what they have or to relieve their suffering,” says Lawrence Smith, MD. “That’s an ultra-siloed way of looking at a patient.” Physicians must care for the whole person and manage their care accordingly.
While listening to patients is important, it’s also necessary to do so in all practice interactions. Show by example that it’s worth the time to stop and truly hear the concerns and questions of nurses, patients’ loved ones, fellow physicians, and others.
2. Work at encouraging a “calm confidence”
In a world that involves diagnoses, procedures, and life-and-death decisions, a calm demeanor is appreciated by all. A “harder” kind of confidence sometimes can come from the back-breaking expectations of med school or the nerves that come from being a young physician in a practice of seasoned doctors. Whatever the reason for it, physicians stand to benefit by working on demeanor.
“In the pursuit of patient safety, we have deliberately prevented residents from acting independently on their own judgment in situations where a patient poses a theoretical risk,” says medical educator Richard A. Freeman, MD.
Help your physicians to stop second-guessing their education and experience by counseling them to take into account all factors and act on what they think is best. Ask for their opinion on the cases that you’re working on. Treat them as equals. Over time, they will become better able to elicit a calm confidence.
3. Foster stronger relationships and better communication
Give your fellow physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals the space to confide in you, take in your counsel, and blow off steam. This helps to foster an environment in which your physicians can thrive.
Of course, bedside manner is as important as ever. Evaluate how your physicians communicate with patients and learn where there could be room for improvement, making course corrections when necessary. Building mutual trust will help their treatment quality and care strategies to be more successful.
4. Cultivate leadership qualities
Leadership in the medical field has evolved. Medical author Lee Ann Jarousse writes:
In the past, hospitals looked for physicians with strong clinical skills, high volume and likability. Now the focus is also on physician leaders with exceptional people skills, capable of communicating effectively and building trust and buy-in across multidisciplinary groups. Management training and knowledge of leadership principles are important ingredients for success. “Physician leaders must be able to build, collaborate, motivate and move strategy in the right direction,” says Peter Angood.
In other words, help your physicians to harness their people skills and their knowledge of best practices so that they can run your practice efficiently and competitively.
5. Promote innovation
Check out this story from the Harvard Business Review:
Clinicians at all the hospitals in our system have agreed to attach colored tape to catheters inserted under less-than-ideal conditions in the emergency department. The tape tells doctors and nurses in the intensive care unit to change those lines as soon as possible once the patient is stable—a practice that we expect will further reduce our infection rates.
In this case, standards were not dictated from the top of the organization. What did come from the top was pressure to collect data in the same way at all hospitals and use it to improve care. Innovation occurs at the front lines of health care; our senior managers would never have thought of using colored tape on catheters. But they could and did create the environment in which such ideas spread.
It’s probably true that your physicians have many ideas and fresh perspectives. Take the time to periodically ask them how they think your practice could, for example, improve its efficiency and use data to improve care. Such opportunities help them to learn, grow, and feel more involved.
6. Take steps to prevent the potential for burnout
Physicians new to a practice and working hard to develop trust, might be pushing their limit as it is. Typically, they are working overtime, juggling a diversity of patients, and trying to learn the ropes of a new environment while staying on top of their normal duties.
Brainstorm with them about the best ways to keep them energized and motivated. It might mean holding morning meetings to discuss concerns, evaluating how to make schedules more manageable, setting internal goals, or holding contests to keep things fun and lively.
7. Be a mentor
Build mentor relationships and ask about your physicians’ goals. Not only will this strengthen relationships, but it will also give you an idea of how they’re looking to develop. The fact you’re showing genuine interest in their goals and success will mean a lot to them.
Consider asking your physicians these questions:
- What kind of doctor would you like to be five years from now?
- Do you have concerns about your patients? What are they?
- What’s a weakness that you’d like to work on?
- Are there aspects of our practice you think could be improved?
- Are there innovative technologies or methods you’re interested in trying?
Put your experience to optimal use as you work with your younger physicians. They will thank you, your patients will thank you, and your practice will thank you!
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