A new work environment can be challenging for newly graduated physicians as well as more experienced physicians. Here are seven ways to help make the onboarding process seamless.
1. Structured, consistent program for physician onboarding
If you haven’t integrated a new physician recently, it’s easy to underestimate the challenges she/he faces in simply getting up to speed. Things you take for granted such as scheduling rules, charting conventions, clinic work flow and even staff names and their roles are all part of the learning process. Helping your new hire learn the ropes quickly makes her/him feel welcome and flattens the learning curve.
Furthermore, codifying this process will help avoid your need to reinvent the wheel each time you add a physician.
2. Consider a mentor for new physicians
Mentoring can be both deeply fulfilling for the mentors and hugely valuable for the physician mentees. We’ve seen many skills transferred to new physicians that otherwise might have taken years to acquire, including maintaining a warm bedside manner while using the practice’s EHR, navigating prior authorizations with a difficult payer or connecting with the local physician community.
3. Provide a strong and experienced medical assistant
As with physician mentoring, a respected medical assistant can take a leading role in getting new physicians up to speed and acclimated to a new environment.
4. Provide adequate EHR training and support
In our consulting practice, we see chronic underinvestment in this area with costly and long-lasting repercussions. Experienced physicians might be well suited to assess new physicians’ readiness as well as sharing their tips and tricks in using the system. Incidentally, having a tech lead is useful in the front office as well.
5. Marketing to help build business for new physicians
This is another commonly underestimated requirement in getting physicians fully running in their new position. We often find that administrators haven’t done the analysis of what it will take to get and keep new hires’ schedule full and profitable. New physicians can benefit from introductions and coaching on how to present themselves to referring physicians through local medical associations.
6. Lay out clear compensation goals in physician contracts
Although it takes an initial investment of time and energy to distill your expectations, it’s essential that you communicate on this subject as precisely as possible. No lawyer or boilerplate contract is going to reduce the importance of this step.
We often see practices where new additions cause a decrease in profitability. It’s not unheard of for new junior physicians to be paid more than the (shocked) physician owners simply because of an error in the compensation formula.
7. Hold regular team meetings
For some practices, especially if they’re bursting with patients, it might be tempting to simply throw new physicians into the mix and hope for the best. In most cases, this approach is a mistake. We’ve heard from many doctors entering new practices that they value being part of a larger team with senior physicians with whom to confer. This small investment is an obvious benefit to patients, but it’s also a wonderful way to build a sense of loyalty and heartfelt appreciation for your new team members.