How not to take care of your team.

I recently met for a ‘very well organised’ cup of coffee with a colleague who had previously been a practice manager. By ‘well organised’, I mean a precisely 20 minutes allotted meet up, that was scheduled in the diaries of two obsessive time keepers. I was staggered to hear that our short beverage break was longer than any of the Consultant meetings she had had in months and months of working for a previous private orthopaedic practice.

This highlighted to me one of the biggest crimes that we Consultants can commit:

The crime of failing to make enough time for your staff.

I’ll admit, I’ve ‘enjoyed’ some pretty pointless meetings in the past – the obligatory annual fire safety course being an absolute classic, when they teach you to get away from hot, burny things. But it’s absolutely vital that Clinicians make time to meet with their team members.

This needs to happen on a very regular, and probably weekly, basis.

Instead, what typically happens is that one little extra patient gets squeezed in, or the surgeon bolts out of the over-running theatre session like a scolded cat. He or she passes by their med sec’s desk, just long enough to slap down some patient operating notes for processing, before scurrying off to the hospital car park. Nor is it satisfactory to have a frantically rushed phone conversation with your med sec in the business lounge of terminal 5, because that’s the only opportunity she’s been given to speak to you down all day. Probably, you will leave most of her questions unanswered, as you begin boarding plane to Vegas /International Anorectoplasty Conference/ski trip to Cloisters (dream on).

If you’re maybe under the delusion that the team have it all in hand and don’t need your interference, think again. How many times did you experience as a junior doctor or SpR, that feeling of anxiety when you needed an urgent decision to be rubber stamped, but you couldn’t get air time with the boss?

Medical administrators need our time, direction, decisions and praise.

Even if you are fortunate enough to have an awesome team, things scan still slide if you failed to complete those Healthcode forms, or didn’t respond in a timely manner to that patient complaint. You might even fail to notice that last month’s patient invoicing hasn’t occurred because everyone was too flippin’ busy.

Medical secretaries are some of the hardest working people I know, but if you don’t spend time with them or are blind to their workloads, you may find them becoming someone else’s medical secretary.

Block out that diary – 30 minutes per week of one to one time, or even a Skype call, will do nicely if you’re part time. Don’t forget they are great advisors of feedback from patients, and will have suggestions on how best to grow your private practice. So, take care of them, rigorously defend time for them, and above all, never take them for granted.
Whilst you might be awesome with an endoscope you wouldn’t have a hope in hell of running you practice without them.

Sometimes, we all need a little extra help in building our practices – from a business perspective, as well as a clinical one.
Through sharing my marketing and business skills with Orthopaedic Surgeons, Consultant Physicians, Physios and Osteos, they’ve been spared valuable time re-inventing the wheel. I’ve helped them attract more of their ideal patients, streamline their processes and develop their successful, profitable practices.

Sometimes we all need a ’Private Practice Ninja’!

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Dr Cath x

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