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Tips for Medical Practice Staff When Joining a New Practice

Tips for Medical Practice Staff When Joining a New Practice

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We asked medical practice consultants, etiquette experts, and physicians to share their key recommendations for new medical practice staff.

Here’s what they said are the top 10 dos and the top 10 don’ts every new hire should adhere to:

THE DOS

1. Do make a good first impression. That means making an effort with your attitude (be cooperative, interested, and happy to be there), and making an effort with your appearance (be neat and clean), said consultant Carol Stryker.

2. Do be a good first impression. “More than the doctor, you are the first ‘face’ of a medical practice when you greet a patient in person or on the phone. You, and the practice, don't get a second chance for a ‘first’ impression,” said cardiologist David Mokotoff.

3. Do seek out. “Try to find a person in the organization that you trust and allow them to mentor you about how the organization works,” said Karen Hickman, an etiquette protocol consultant who trains staff and physicians throughout the country.

4. Do be prompt. Arrive early before work and after your lunch break. The only exception is the end of the day, said Stryker. Avoid running out the door, or looking as though you want to, at quitting time.

5. Do ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask. “A mistake is much worse than admitting you don’t get it,” said Stryker. When you receive a request, paraphrase it back to ensure you understand correctly. If it still makes no sense, do what you have been asked. “At a later time, ask privately why things are done that way,” she said.

6. Do be willing. “A willingness to learn new things will serve you well in your present job, or any future job, you want to pursue,” said Mokotoff.

7. Do be hospitable. Have an “open house” at your home. “Staff getting to know you is as important as you getting to know them,” said consultant P.J. Cloud-Moulds. “Throw a curve in it, and ask everyone to bring a dish ... you can tell a lot about someone by the food they eat,” she said. “Observe how everyone interacts with each other outside of the workplace.”

8. Do reassure. “If a problem or appointment can't be made right away, then reassure the patient you will work on it and call them back in a reasonable time. Then make sure you do,” said Mokotoff.

9. Do more. Do more than your share and be willing to help others with their work, whenever possible, said Hickman.

10. Do remember your purpose. “Always remember why you are working at a medical office,” said Mokotoff. “It is to make patients feel better.”

THE DON’TS

1. Don’t leave tasks unfinished. If you have taken on a task, request, or complaint from a patient, follow through until it’s completed or resolved. If it is beyond your capability, find someone who can resolve it, said Hickman.

2. Don’t take things personally. If patients are frustrated, don’t get bent out of shape, said Mokotoff. Put yourself in their place and consider how you would feel. “It is far easier to problem solve and empathize that way,” he said.

3. Don’t set your employer up for disappointment. Don’t try to do more than you will be able to sustain in the long run, said Stryker. That leads to high expectations you can’t live up to. 

4. Don’t let a patient hear you complain. “It sends a poor message for your organization and can be damaging to everyone’s reputation,” said Hickman.

5. Don’t try too hard. Maintain a pleasant demeanor but don’t try to charm anyone, said Stryker. Also, avoid telling jokes and laughing too loudly.

6. Don’t text and make personal calls. Better yet, rid yourself of temptation by turning off your phone while at work.

7. Don’t use superlatives. Usually, there is an exception to any rule so avoid words like, “never” and “always,” said Hickman. “Those words make you sound unaccommodating.”

8. Don’t bring up the past. Be as silent as possible about your previous jobs and coworkers, said Stryker. “If you complain about them, your new coworkers will assume you'll do the same about them. If you praise them, the impression is that you find the new place unsatisfactory and inferior.”

9. Don’t discuss work issues in public. You never know who may be listening and you could set yourself up for a HIPAA violation, said Hickman.

10. Don’t gossip. “Remember to never talk about patients outside the office setting,” said Mokotoff. “Gossip is the worst form of communication ever devised by man.”

What tips would you share with new hires? Share them below.

 
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