Wednesday, August 14, 2013

For New Physicians: The Do’s and Don’ts of Working in a Practice (Part 4 of a 4 Part Series)

medical office behavior
Quality of Care
Newly-in-practice physicians have a tendency to think that high “Quality” care is a measurement of how the doctor was trained, or where he or she attended medical school. This is not the case. From a patient’s perspective, quality of care is the full spectrum of care delivered in the practice. This includes how the patient is addressed and treated from the time they are welcomed by the receptionist to when they see the physician and other clinical staff…to their final clinical outcome.
Certainly the quality of patient care related to your clinical skills is crucial. Don’t underestimate the other barometers of “quality,” especially in the new era of consumer-driven healthcare. Patients are becoming more educated and demanding, and many times they have a choice of where to get their care. Online reviews are taking off and patients are reviewing everything from the doctor’s demeanor, to the way the office is maintained, to the way they are greeted by the receptionist.

Taking Call
As you know and have already experienced, “Call,” is a long-standing tradition in medicine. Call provides varied experiences for young physician in treating a range of patients. In addition, someone needs to care for patients after hours. Since a new physician in a practice is at the bottom of the food chain, it is important to view call as a way to improve your career progression and as a way to improve your clinical skills. Accept call willingly and realize that your physician colleagues before you have done the same!

7 Traits of a Good Doctor
One of my favorite articles from The Mayo Clinic Proceedings published a study of 200 patients treated at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Minnesota from 2001 to 2002. Following are the seven traits of a good doctor, listed by the patients, along with the patients’ definitions of those traits:
  • Confident: "The doctor's confidence gives me confidence." 
  • Empathetic: "The doctor tries to understand what I am feeling and experiencing, physically and emotionally, and communicates that understanding to me." 
  • Humane: "The doctor is caring, compassionate, and kind." 
  • Personal: "The doctor is interested in me more than just as a patient, interacts with me, and remembers me as an individual." 
  • Forthright: "The doctor tells me what I need to know in plain language and in a forthright manner." 
  • Respectful: "The doctor takes my input seriously and works with me." 
  • Thorough: "The doctor is conscientious and persistent.”
  • Leadership
While innovation and original thinking are welcome in a medical practice, they are not necessarily the sign of a good physician-leader. Leaders must be practical and consistently provide opportunities for success for the practice. Good leaders understand, appreciate and demonstrate accountability. As you move more into a leadership role in your practice:
  • Define a vision
  • Communicate the vision
  • Recognize the leadership styles
  • Understand the difference between leadership and management
  • Learn and follow the rules within reason
  • Earn trust of colleagues
  • Understand when to exercise power
  • Behave like a leader
  • Turn followers into leaders
  • Maintain personal balance
  • Strive to help people so that eventually the leader is no longer needed
As you begin your career in a new practice, remember that you do make a difference. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on patients, your co-workers, and on the practice as a whole. Put forth your best effort every day, even if it seems no one will notice the difference. Someone will notice.