We must never stop learning. Sure, there are fires to put out and problems to solve every day, including unhappy patients, squabbling staff, difficulties with insurance companies, and the like. Nevertheless, you have a responsibility to yourself and your staff to continually grow and develop, both personally and professionally. But how do you find time to learn more about running your practice when you're in the midst of it all every day?
Perhaps these suggestions will help:
Join your local- and state-level medical organizations. Also consider joining the Medical Group Management Association or the American Medical Group Association. Use these groups to network - one of the most robust methods for growth. Learn from your peers - not only how they have solved problems, but also what programs they've attended, books they've read, etc.
Read - lots! Magazines, books, e-zines, Web blogs. Don't just focus on healthcare. Stay on top of business books dealing with issues medical administrators face every day, such as financial management, human resources, benchmarking, branding, and so on. Work in some face time with Harvard Business Review, Forbes, or Fortune. Remember that staying abreast of what's happening in healthcare is important, but don't narrow your focus so much that you miss out on conventional business thinking.
Form a discussion group with your senior practice leaders. Circulate selected readings for discussion. Or, you could even develop such a program with other leaders in your community, tailored to whether you're a physician or an administrator. Meet once a month or once a quarter - whatever works for you - to swap information and ideas. Make sure you listen, really listen, as well as talk. Remember the cliché: "That's why we have two ears and only one mouth."
Attend seminars, programs, Webinars. There are so many opportunities today for physicians to learn and to share information with their staff. You can even download podcasts on subjects of interest and listen to them while commuting. (Read the Physicians Practice article, "Podcasting - More Than Music to the Ears," if you're unsure how to use such technology.)
Take care of your mental and physical health. Sound trite? Perhaps, but still valid and important. Take time for vacation and relaxation. You need it to recharge yourself. Get some fresh air, listen to music, put plants in your office, and talk to the goldfish.
Personal and professional development is essential to growing a dynamic practice. Indeed, maintaining the status quo should not be an option in today's ever-changing business climate. Clearly, you want to make sure that you and your staff are always growing. It's a journey you should start today.
Kenneth Hertz, CMPE, is a senior consultant with the MGMA Health Care Consulting Group. Mr. Hertz has 30 years of management experience within the healthcare industry and not-for-profit sectors. His special interests include operational improvement, practice analysis, strategic planning, and strategic marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.