Avoid Physician Hiring Horror Stories at Your Practice

October 15, 2014

In the spirit of Halloween, I've identified three common physician hiring horror stories. Here's how you can avoid them.

Fall is probably my favorite season. I love when the temperature cools down, football season kicks off, and pumpkin-flavored treats take over. I even love that fall means budgeting and planning season (weird, I know). But we all know that the absolute best part of fall is Halloween. Who doesn’t love the chance to dress up, eat treats (especially pumpkin-flavored treats), and watch horror movies?

While fall is the perfect time for telling scary stories, no one wants to live them in real life, especially in a medical practice. Here are a few common physician hiring horror stories and how to avoid them:

Oh, no! I’ve hired a zombie - One of the most common laments we hear from hospitals and practice owners is that they hired the wrong doctor. They’ll often say, “The physician had the right clinical skills, but when he joined the team, he just didn’t fit in.”
What’s the secret to finding right cultural fit for your practice? It’s actually less about the interviewee than the interviewer. As a practice, you need to define who you are and what you believe in. Once you’ve got that figured out, finding the right doctor is much easier. Interview questions can focus less on clinical protocol and more on core values. If the practice’s number-one priority is patient satisfaction, for example, your questions should dive deep into how the job candidate has been successful in this area in the past, and how she can help your team achieve goals in the future.

Bringing on a new doctor is torture - The hiring process doesn’t end when a doctor says yes to your offer. A physician’s first few weeks and months on the job can set the tone for either a great working relationship or a disaster waiting to happen. To make the transition as smooth as possible for your new hire, start sooner than later. Make sure there is plenty of contact between the verbal or written “yes” and the physician’s first day. Let her know where to park, who to call, and what you can do to help. On her first day, roll out the red carpet and make her the star of the show. Set expectations early of what you expect and how you will help her get up to speed - and then follow up to ensure long-term engagement.

I’m trapped in a coverage nightmare - For most facilities, certain times are busier than others. Maybe it’s at the beginning of flu season, or at the end of the year before insurance deductibles start over. When patient loads increase, it’s important to staff up to meet the demand. Using a locum tenens physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner not only allows you to keep patient wait-times down, but it takes some of the burden off of your full-time staff.
As a practice owner, it’s easy to focus on the health of your patients and forget about your own. If you want to avoid physician burnout - something that affects nearly half of all seasoned physicians - make sure that you and your team get the rest they need. With the holidays around the corner, it’s a good time to think about who needs a break and how temporary coverage can make money for the practice, even while you’re away.