Joining a new practice is nerve-wracking for any doctor. To help set your mind at ease, we asked medical practice consultants and etiquette experts to share their top recommendations for starting off on the right foot.
Here are their top 10 do’s and their top 10 don’ts for physicians joining new practices:
1. Do introduce yourself. “Make an effort to meet and get to know everyone on your team,” said Karen Hickman, an etiquette protocol consultant who trains staff and physicians throughout the country.
2. Do observe. “Watch the interactions and learn the dynamic of the new facility/job,” said consultant P.J. Cloud-Moulds. “Try to refrain from saying things like, ‘At my last job, we did this ...’ You’re not there anymore, you're here.”
3. Do be respectful. Respect nurses and other support staff. “Experienced nurses are a wealth of information,” said Hickman. “They can also be a valuable marketing agent for any physician.”
4. Do enlist staff allies. Ask staff questions, acknowledge that you will need their help, and treat them as if you are all on the same team, said consultant Carol Stryker.
5. Do be kind. Treat staff members to lunches occasionally and remember them on special days, said Hickman.
6. Do be generous. “Be generous with praise and compliment staff members for jobs well done,” said Hickman.
7. Do be professional. Maintain a professional demeanor, be neat and clean, and be calm and focused, said Stryker.
8. Do lead by example. Don’t expect more of your staff members than you are willing to do, said Hickman.
9. Do be pleasant to everyone. Postpone making quick decisions about who you like or who you don’t like, said Stryker.
10. Do get personal with colleagues. After the first week or so, ask a coworker to lunch, said Cloud-Moulds. “It's really quite amazing how fun and lively people are outside of the workplace. It's also a lot easier to prevent, eliminate, or resolve conflict when you know someone a little better than just ‘a coworker.’”
1. Don’t come bearing gifts. Avoid handing out gifts too early, said Cloud-Moulds. “You want the staff to respect you for your work ethic, you don't want them thinking you have to buy their respect.”
2. Don’t be loud, rude, arrogant, or abusive, said Stryker.
3. Don’t let your ego get in the way. “Be confident, but avoid putting yourself on a pedestal compared to other team members,” said Hickman.
4. Don't brag. Steer clear of mentioning your signing bonus, compensation schedule, new house, new car, etc., said Stryker.
5. Don’t lose your temper. Keep your anger and language in check when dealing with staff members, said Hickman.
6. Don’t be a doormat. Don’t let other physicians take advantage of you. For instance, often there is a “premium on exam room space” and the new physician is left stranded waiting for a room, said consultant George Conomikes.
7. Don’t publicly criticize. If you have an issue with a team member bring it up privately, said Hickman.
8. Don’t try to be “one of the guys.” Don’t forget that that there is a “necessary divide” between physicians and staff, said Stryker.
9. Don’t be lazy. Don’t leave every little task for your support staff, said Hickman. If it is something that you can accomplish without disrupting the flow of your day, do it.
10. Don’t bond over the wrong things. Don’t tell secrets and don’t listen to complaints from colleagues, said Stryker. “There will plenty of time for bonding with peers after you know the players and the politics.”
Share your tips for physicians joining new practices below.