Has anyone ever told you you have a green thumb? You might have killed a plant or two in your life, but when it comes to helping physicians grow, have no fear. Replace that water and sun recipe with a few professional grooming principles, and you’ll be amazed with how your physicians begin to view themselves, their job, and their contribution to your practice.
As a seasoned professional, you’ve got years of experience looking for and developing the skills needed to be a successful physician. Now it’s time to pass on this knowledge to your younger generation physicians. There’s an ever-increasing value that comes with investing in these young doctors; actively helping them develop will allow them to be better physicians, grow the practice, treat patients successfully, and contribute to the world of medicine. Read on for a few action items to consider.
1. Develop listening skills
To develop a patient-centered environment, your physicians have got to listen. “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.” You need physicians who care for the whole person, and manage their care accordingly.
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While listening is important for talking with patients, it’s also necessary for every other practice interaction. Show by example that it’s worth the time to stop and listen to nurses’ concerns, patients’ loved ones’ questions, fellow physicians’ recommendations, and current industry research. These listening skills are a sign of a professional physician.
2. Build confidence
In a professional world that involves diagnoses, procedures, and patient relationships, confidence is crucial. The common lack of confidence could 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 cause, it’s time for physicians to get their heads back in the game.
“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 stop second-guessing their education and experience by counseling them to act on what they think is best. Ask for their opinion on cases you’re working on. Talk to them as equals. Over time, they’ll become more confident, competent, and achieving doctors.
3. Create strong relationships
Counsel your physicians to take this to heart in every area of their lives. Investing in strong personal relationships with family and friends, even in the midst of a busy medical career, will help strengthen physicians’ psyche. At work, having fellow physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals to confide in, counsel with, and blow off steam with will provide an environment in which your physicians can thrive. And, of course, bedside manner is as important as ever. Evaluate how your physicians communicate with patients and see where there’s room for improvement. Building a mutual trust can help their treatment plans be more successful.
4. Cultivate leadership
The concept of 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, you need to help your physicians harness their people skills and knowledge of best practices in order to run your practice efficiently and competitively.
5. Promote innovation
While we’re on the topic of leadership and best practices, let’s talk innovation. Ponder this story from 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.
Your physicians are full of new ideas and fresh perspectives. Chat with them about how they think your practice could improve efficiency and use data to improve care. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn and grow.
6. Prevent Burnout
A person can’t grow if they’re too burned out to even do their current job. Physicians, especially if they’re new, might be pushing their limit as it is. This could come from working overtime, juggling too many high-priority patients, or trying to learn the ropes of a new environment while staying on top of their normal duties. Brainstorm with your physicians about what the best ways are to keep them energized and motivated. It might mean starting morning meetings with a discussion about why a fellow physician decided to enter the medical field, evaluating how to make schedules more manageable, or setting internal goals or contests to keep things fun.
7. Be a mentor
Still at a loss at how to help your physicians grow? Talk to them. Build a mentor relationship with them by asking what goals they have personally and for the practice. Not only will this strengthen your relationship with and ability to relate to physicians, but it will also give you an idea of what ways they’re looking to grow. Plus, the fact that you’re showing a genuine interest in their goals and success will mean a lot. Consider asking them the following questions:
- What kind of physician do you want to be five years down the road?
- What concerns do you have about patients right now?
- What’s a weakness you’re wanting to work on?
- Are there things about our practice that you think could be improved?
- Are there innovative technologies or methods you’re interested in trying?
You, my friend, have the green thumb for professional growth. Put it to use as you work with younger physicians. They will thank you, your patients will thank you, and your practice will thank you. To request a demo or to contact us with questions about how we can help you recruit physicians, please visit PhysEmp.