Advice for a New Physician
If you’re a new physician looking for employment it can be a daunting task. All of a sudden you are thrust into the job market and knowing where to invest your time can be tricky. You don’t want to be forced to take a job you don’t particularly like, or be stuck with no viable options. The best way to conduct a job search in the current market is to do your research and think outside the box.
1. Cast a Wider Net
Some physicians are overwhelmed by the variety of choices and unaccustomed to negotiating for a job, new doctors often wind up in positions that are a bad fit for them, and they move on after just a few years.
A common mistake is only focusing your job search in one location. That narrow approach could force you into a job you don’t really like. Think about it: you’re so focused on just the location of a prospective job that you forget to zero-in on more important things like the salary and benefits. Does this job have a lot of on-call time? Is there room for growth? Concentrating on one aspect of a job leaves you open to disappointment in the long run. Your dream job may not be in the location you think it should be.
How to Prepare For a Healthcare Interview
Nicola Hawkinson DNP, RNFA, RN
The biggest mistake in interviewing is not being fully prepared. Understand that interviewing is a skill; preparation and practice enhance the quality of that skill. Preparation can make the difference between getting an offer and getting rejected.
There is no one “best” way to prepare for an interview. Rather, there are specific and important strategies to enhance one’s chances for interview success. Every interview is a learning experience, so learning that takes place during the preparation and actual interview process is useful for future interviews.
Initial preparation requires recent assessment of skills, interests, values, and accomplishments; a re-assessment and updating of one’s resume; and research on the targeted company/organization and position. Preparation also includes actual practice of typical and targeted interview questions. Final preparation includes details of dress and appearance, knowledge of the location of the interview, what to expect, and protocols for follow-up.
You may have not planned your practice around compliance and risk management, but you know what they say? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Compliance programs are new to many private practices. What does a compliance program mean for your practice? The program is meant to be a series of checks and balances to ensure the practice is meeting standards. Why do you I need a compliance program?
A compliance program can prove to anyone that practitioners are making a reasonable attempt to comply with all regulatory requirements and have established the necessary procedures to do so. One reason why you might need a compliance program is to ensure staff applies the appropriate billing guidelines correctly. Medical documentation is important from a financial point of view. If a healthcare provider forgets to write something down in a patient’s chart, whether it regards to treatment, surgery, or a minor procedure, the facility will not be paid for it. Without documentations there is not proof that a patient received any services. Documentation and easy access to medical records can ensure patient confidentiality as well as a patient’s life in dire situation. If standards of care are being met then there will be thorough documentation. An important aspect of documentation comes from setting a standard for employees to follow including:
Healthcare practices can adopt certain behaviors from the military to help not only boost the morale of the office, but also create a more engaged working environment. Follow these eight habits for your practice to operate at the optimal level:
1. Be loyal.
Loyalty to the team starts at the top. Loyalty is about leading by example, providing your team unconditional support, and never throwing a team member under the bus. Member of your team will be loyal to your practice if they feel like they are being appreciated.
2. Put others before yourself.
Go to work every day with the intention to make your team better and offer help to those who need it. People who become overworked and overtired are not productive members of your team. The success of the practice should be a priority for all employees.
3. Be reflective.
Understanding what works for you and what doesn’t is often underappreciated in the workplace. You’re expected to do things according to the way of the practice and that’s fine, but you should reflect on how your behavior and adaptability affect your overall performance.
Adding more doctors to your practice might be a smart move for smaller practices. Yes, the added cost can be expensive but for most doctors it is well worth it. Smaller practices have struggled more and more recently. It is harder to keep doctors in smaller practices when the payoffs are not as big but the responsibilities are greater. You might be stuck deciding what path to take to grow your practice; here are four ways to scale up:
1) Satellite Offices
Scaling up the practices can occur a few different ways. One way would be opening satellite offices as a means to create more revenue and patient. Making the practice more accessible to patients will help you engage new patients you wouldn’t have seen otherwise as well as utilizing more doctors. Life at a larger practiced is more varied. In a big practice, physicians might spend time pursuing special interests or research. Options for part-time work are more available at a larger practice where responsibilities aren’t piled on between one or two physicians. The larger practice setting can also provide economic benefits for the physician.
2) Updating Technology
Utilizing EMR systems and updating software regularly will help with patient flow and wait times. The more organized the practice is, especially a larger office, the more patients can be seen. Implementing new technology can be stressful but if you are dedicated to growing the practice you and your staff must be able to adapt. Practices that are most successful are the most adaptable to change.
3) Adding Ancillary Services
Are you commonly outsourcing an ancillary service that fits with your current and potential patient population? Integrating services needed by your inbound and outbound referrals provides you with a patient-centered continuum of care with the goal of improving continuity of care, compliance and outcomes.
4) Broaden the Types of Specialists in the Practice
Thinking outside the box will help the practice achieve success. Giving patients the option of alternative treatment plans is becoming more popular as patients have greater access to knowledge about treatment options from online resources.
Whatever route you choose to scale up your practice, remember it is important to know that these changes take time. Whether you plan to add more physician, satellite offices or ancillary services each step to grow the practice will ultimately make your practice stronger and more profitable for the future.
Can your front desk be a profit center for your practice? Yes, but there are instances where physicians may not know what is happening out in the waiting room while they are taking care of patients. Any practice will have some bumps in the road with employees, but physicians must be conscious about checking in with every member of their team. When there is a lack of communication between the physician and staff, patients will feel the negative impact. How well the front desk operates could make or break your practice. The front desk is the first in line to a patient’s access to care making it one of many important elements in patient satisfaction. The front desk staff are the navigators of your practice and staying in tune with them to see how the practice is operating on a day to day basis not only keeps patients happy but helps retain them as well.
First impressions count–When a patient walks into the waiting room they are either walking into a warm and inviting environment or a stark and cold one. How you present your practice to the patients starts way before you see them in the exam room. For the receptionist a patient’s visit starts with the same, and sometimes monotonous, procedures like asking for insurance information, paperwork and answering questions. Receptionists may also be responsible for answering the phones as well, adding extra stress to an already busy schedule. Even though there might be high call volume and patients in the waiting room, this is not an excuse for the front desk to act exasperated by patients. If the practice is large, this might be a good time to suggest hiring candidates specifically for phone triage. If the practice is small, create a way to delegate responsibilities at the front desk. Instead of having all receptionists answer the phones make it only one or two people’s job. If the office runs smoothly patients are much more likely to feel comfortable about the capabilities of the physician. Some physicians may not feel like their staff is a direct reflection of them and this is a common mistake. You might value patient satisfaction as a physician, but if the front desk is doing a mediocre job patients will think that you must not care as well. Patients are much more likely to return to an office where receptionists, medical assistants, nurses and physicians work well with one another. If a patient is frustrated after dealing with disgruntled employees this will take away from important time spent with the physician. What can be done to remedy this?
For starters, physicians need to be aware of what’s going on in every aspect of their practice. Having weekly staff meetings where you discuss proper protocols for face-to-face and telephone communications with patients are a must. You’d be surprised by how many practices do not take the time to do this and it shows. Schedule one day a week where staff is able to come in 15-20mins before the days begins and use that time to have a meeting. This should be something that is understood by both current and prospective employees. You need people who want to be a part of a team and who respect that you are staying on top of what goes on in the office. Another way to ensure the practice is functioning well is by having a formal orientation for new employees making sure there is a set time for training at the start of employment. Training could take two weeks or possibly more depending on the job responsibilities. During this time period new employees should have ample time to learn what is expected of them from them professionally and how to carry out job responsibilities in an effective and timely manner.
Following-up with patients means much more than the physician calling after the original appointment. It means staying on top of follow-up appointments and referrals. It also means keeping in touch with patients. Receptionists should be responsible for collecting both phone numbers and emails to reach patients. Technology is much more advanced than it was even a decade ago and using it to your advantage will be beneficial. Sending out e-newsletters introducing new physicians to your patients or services your office has to offer is one way of keeping patients in the loop. Healthcare is a service industry so take the time to make sure your staff is cultivating long-term patient relationships.
If your practice is being managed properly then learning and professional development will be valued. All employees, whether they are receptionists, medical assistants, nurses or physicians, should undergo training for how to respond and engage with patients. The waiting room might just be the start of a patient’s visit, but it says a lot about how the office runs on a daily basis. If there are major issues in the waiting room physicians are unaware of that makes the patient think that there is very little communication between the physicians and the receptionists. When all employees are on the same page regarding how to care for patients then you will see the organization flow from check-in, treatment and follow-up.
Becoming a physician, nurse or other health care specialist requires many years of education, but the learning doesn’t stop once a license and board certification have been earned. Learning continues by way of continued medical education, or CME. Private practices know that continuing medical education plays a critical role improving patient outcomes, reducing healthcare costs and enhancing the overall quality and efficiency.
The primary purpose of continuing medical education is to maintain and improve clinical performance so it is important that practices make this available to physicians and nurses. If it is possible to plan CME activities for your staff then you should do so. CME credits are required for most healthcare professionals and allocating money to these events is important. Look into whether or not you could host an even in-house or offsite event. Your employees will appreciate this because they won’t have to search for CME lectures that fit into their already busy schedule. Employees who are up-to-date on evidence-based practices and the latest clinical developments lead to better patient outcomes and compliance.
When a nurse or physician join your practice it is important to setup a timeline for CME activities throughout the year. Whether you financially reimburse employees for CME credits or give them days to attend courses (separate from vacation and sick days) it must be discussed at the beginning or their employment. When, where and how the medical staff obtains their credits should be just as important to you as it is to them.
During the recruitment and hiring process there are a lot of protocols that should be followed. Hiring qualified candidates starts by creating the proper pool of applicants; only put the best resumes into your database. Knowing the difference between a good resume and a bad resume is sometimes harder than you may think.
Technology is a huge part of daily life as well as job hunting techniques. Candidates are now able to search for example resumes online and use other services to create resumes. We are no longer immune to false advertising on resumes. Yes, everyone wants their resume to stand out and look good, but your resume won’t be the one meeting deadlines and fulfilling job responsibilities; that’s up to you.
Some of the biggest red flags on resumes are: lapses in employment and short time at jobs. When a candidate has not worked in five to ten years that should be concerning. Why? Because healthcare changes all the time and if an employee is not up-to-date with the current changes it can be detrimental to business. Some candidates have reasons for why they have been out of the working world for so long, and if the reason is legitimate, schedule an interview and see if they can overcome their lack of job experience in the recent years. Only do this in cases where the candidate had the right experience before leaving the field, and a good track record of keeping previous jobs. Another red flag is short time spent at jobs. If you see that a candidate has steadily left previous jobs after a year or two than rethink taking them on as an employee. What will happen after a year working with you? Will they leave? You don’t want to have to constantly be worrying that the person you hired is going to pick up and leave.
Once a candidate has been selected for an interview, ask the right questions. If a person cannot give a straight answer about previous job responsibilities, then chances are they have lied about job responsibilities to look better on paper. Some red flags you just can’t confirm without meeting the candidate in person. You may feel like you have wasted your time but at least you are honing your skills for picking up on phony resumes. Paying to red flags will save you a lot of time in the long-run.
Medical practice marketing is now a fairly common concept for many physicians. Every practice should have a healthcare marketing strategy in place so you can market your practice better to current and future patients. How important is the marketing strategy in healthcare? It is important today than ever before; not only do patients use websites and other forms of social media to find physicians to treat them, but healthcare workers looking for jobs use them as well.
A practice website is invaluable to your marketing strategy. Posting blogs regularly on your website allows your practice to have a greater visibility online and helps you connect with your patients. Use what you know about patient demographics and what topics would be most educational. You may even want to focus on frequently asked questions most of your patients and give them answers. Keeping information you provide current and relevant is important for establishing credibility both online and in-person.
Healthcare evolves continuously so you must consider the changes and adapt while keeping patients informed. The way you market your practice is a reflection of how well you know your practice. Also, understand that marketing strategies will be subject to change as well. The tactics that worked five or ten years ago do not apply today. Knowing who you are marketing to including patients and potential employees is important. Strategies for marketing are different depending on who you are marketing to. You might attend annual conferences and bring brochures that highlight what your practice has to offer as well as the work environment. Meanwhile, your waiting room may have brochures that answer common questions and give information about chronic diseases or preventative care. Your website should have similar information in case people are looking up the practice online. You also want to have information about the doctors at the practice and their backgrounds. Whether you are marketing to patients or physicians you should have a strategy in place that is structured but also flexible.
In the past decade video/skype interviewing has become the leading edge technology in the recruiting world. While some recruiting firms recruit for local positions, others recruit nationwide; making it more difficult to have that face-to-face connection with potential candidates. This is where video/skype interviews become vital to not only recruiters but clients and candidates as well.
Ask yourself this: What is the main advantage of a face-to-face interview? A lot of people would say meeting the candidate in person is the most important aspect. Luckily video interviewing has made it possible to see the candidate visually without having to be in the same state or even the same country. Before video interviewing the only way to screen a candidate was by phone and that can be impersonal. Now, with technology on our side not only are we as recruiters able to see our candidates, we are able to get a more in-depth look at who he/she is as a person, and if they really are the correct fit for the position. This generates a stronger relationship with the client, because they will be able to know you are working that much harder to send them the best applicants possible for their facility.
Now, put yourself in the position of the candidate. A video interview seems easy enough, right? It may seem that all it entails is sitting in front of the camera and answering questions just as you would in a face-to-face setting. However, not properly preparing yourself can hurt your chances of being offered your dream job. Technology is not always reliable. There can be times when we lose service and/or connection. We are used to everything being available in seconds and don’t stop to think that technology can in fact contain a glitch or two. With that being said it is important to “check your tech” (check the video connection) ahead of time to ensure there are no interruptions during your interview. During an in person interview there usually isn’t much room for distractions. In the case of video interviewing you’d be surprised how many disturbances can occur.
There are factors that must be gone over with a fine-tooth comb in order to make your video interview as successful as possible. First, take a look at the atmosphere around you. First, make sure there are no TVs on in the background, no screaming children or barking pets. Second, double check that you have proper lighting and can be seen on camera; it would be unfortunate if your interviewer was unable to see you clearly. Finally, dress to impress! Just because you may be in the comfort of your own home during the interview it does not mean that your appearance is not being evaluated as well.