Whether you’re hiring a physician or a non-physician provider, odds are you’ll spend a great deal of time (and probably money, too) attracting the right clinician candidate to your practice. If that new hire ultimately doesn’t work out, your practice will face the costs of going back to square one—as well as lost revenue while that job remains unfilled. Effective onboarding can help ensure your new hire knows what is expected and become productive more quickly. Yet despite the high stakes involved, getting new hires off to a good start often gets much less attention than recruiting does.
Protect that big recruitment investment by getting your new clinicians off to a strong start. Here are some quick tips for how to do it.
Be realistic about ramp-up time.
It’s natural to be excited about the productivity a new clinician can bring to your organization. It will take a while, though, for your new hire to ramp up to full capacity.
Plan more accurately for the ramp-up by considering the individual’s training and prior experiences. A nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) may need a lot of training and oversight for many months, especially if they’ve just graduated or are coming from a different specialty. (Remember that less-experienced clinicians will likely be counting on your training—and not providing it could severely affect their morale.)
Even experienced physicians will need time to get acclimated to your systems, protocols, and workflows. And if you expect a newly hired physician to attract new patients, keep in mind that creating a reputation and building a network also take time.
Be clear from the start about expectations.
When employed clinicians fall behind on unspoken expectations, resentments may fester—and relationships can fray if both sides come to feel deceived. Before you even recoup your investment in recruiting, your new hire could end up leaving your practice. Unfortunately, it’s a sad pattern we’ve seen too often in our consulting work.
The first step to avoid such costly misunderstandings is to be as clear as possible about what you expect. Invest time to document a full year’s productivity goals in advance of your new hire’s arrival—then share the specifics once he/she starts.
Productivity may be the most important area where misunderstandings can occur, but it’s not the only one. You may also be making workflow and work style assumptions that don’t align with your new hire’s.
For example, do you consider it “standard” that charts be completed within a certain timeframe? Will you be disappointed if your new physician does not personally meet with primary care doctors or present at local hospitals? Are NPs and PAs expected to network with their peers in your local area? Are there unwritten rules for how to work with staff? Try to be as specific as possible about all of the things that could undermine your new hire’s ability to fit in and thrive—don’t just assume they already know.
Make sure you’re prepared to give specific, objective feedback as your clinician ramps up, too. For example, make sure your physicians have access to reports detailing their productivity, new patient visits, and other key metrics.
Give them the administrative support they need to adapt quickly.
Every workplace has everyday “stuff” that new employees have to learn: how to use company email, where the bathroom is, where to park, how and when salaries are delivered. Preparing a document that covers all of these sorts of basics, then sending it to all new hires before they start, can help new employees feel welcome and ready for work.
Learning new software can make getting up to speed harder for new physicians, NPs, and PAs. Staff can help by making access to system training available and helping new providers learn your practice’s clinical and billing documentation policies.
Your practice management team can also help new physicians bring revenue in fast by getting started on credentialing as soon as possible. The complete process might take months—so starting well ahead of the physician’s first day of work is a good idea. Make sure your team has already planned for the documents and data they’ll need from the physician to complete the process.
Marketing support is also critical to a strong start. One of the easiest and most valuable first steps is to be sure your new hire is listed properly in online payer and reviews directories. If getting your physician out into the community is part of your marketing approach, make sure staff is also ready to help with contacts, introductions, and planning.