Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For Job Descriptions "Other Duties as Assigned" Isn’t Enough in Current Medical Practice

Job Descriptions
According to compensation experts relying too heavily on the age-worn tagline " . . . and other duties as assigned" can seriously decrease a job description’s effectiveness. If you believe a particular task is essential to a staff member’s job, specify it in the written job description.

Job descriptions enhance employer-employee relationships in several key ways. You can use a well-written job description to:


  • Assign work; 
  • Clarify missions; 
  • Establish performance requirements; 
  • Assign occupational codes, titles, and pay levels to jobs; 
  • Recruit for vacancies; 
  • Counsel employees on career opportunities and their vocational interests; 
  • Check for compliance with legal requirements related to equal opportunity, equal pay, overtime eligibility, etc.; 
  • Make decisions on job restructuring; and 
  • Evaluate requests for accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Too many employers have never bothered to construct meaningful job descriptions, and many who have them don’t keep them updated or use them effectively. But job descriptions are a fundamental you must not neglect.

Job descriptions—who needs ’em? In truth, anybody who’s serious about employing an effective staff must create, update, and use a written job description for every worker in the organization. The smaller the practice, the less likely you’ve bothered with job descriptions. There’s a practical reason for that: Fewer staffers means less specialization. How do you write a job description for the receptionist who doubles as a medical records clerk and a cashier? In a large organization, that would mean at least three job descriptions.

Still, your workers usually want written descriptions. Employees—especially those without management functions—want clear expectations, priorities, and directions from their supervisors. Lacking such clear communication, you can expect a certain amount of chaos and inefficiency.

How many times a day do you hear a frustrated office manager say something like, “Gosh! You’d think she’d know by now to do that!” Actually, no, you wouldn’t. If you’ve never bothered to describe an employee’s job and its place in your organizational mission, you shouldn’t expect the person to accomplish any of the essential tasks.

Creating job descriptions is a tedious and time- consuming task, but it’s an essential one. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of help available. Just Google the phrase “medical office job descriptions,” and you should get over 15 million hits. There are sources online and a host of management consultants sell job description guides and templates that will help you avoid reinventing that wheel.

It might be more difficult to find the time to keep your descriptions updated and relevant to day-to-day operations in your office. One of the easiest ways to do that is to attach a copy of the appropriate job description to each staff member’s annual review. It can serve as a reference while evaluating the worker, and it gives you an opportunity to discuss it afresh with the person actually doing the job. If the job requirements have changed, you can modify the description.

If you’re a smaller practice with just a handful of workers, you’ll still benefit from written descriptions. In the case of that receptionist-file clerk-cashier, start with three job descriptions from one of those published libraries. You can choose the essential tasks from each role and consolidate them into a single description. You might be surprised at what you’re asking of each worker. And that’s another benefit of using job descriptions: they can help you analyze and balance workloads.

If you enjoy reading the blog entries in "Solving Problems in the Medical Practice" you may want to check out all the great products at Greenbranch Publishing.

 photo credit: via photopin cc