Associates: Use these 7 mantras to fit in at any hospital
In this column in the May issue, I gave practice owners a list of seven mantras to help them find and keep good associates—that's you. You'll be glad to know I told the owners to reward you for good work, share their knowledge with you, and listen to your opinions. Now it's your turn to sit back and absorb a set of my homemade mantras. They'll help you fit in at any hospital and with any owner. In fact, they're guaranteed to lower your stress level faster than an hour of meditation in a Zen rock garden. OK, maybe not. But they will help you throughout your career.
1 The team knows all.
Yes, you graduated at the top of your class. Yes, you hold high medical standards. But to meet those standards, you know what you need? Team members. They know a thing or two. After all, the team has been getting along just fine without you for a long time.Solicit team members' suggestions on managing the workload, working with difficult clients, or fixing billing errors, and take their advice when it's offered. Team members may not always be right, but often they are, and they can help solve many of your problems.
2 Good business equals good medicine.
Let's not get into who owns the practice and how you need to make enough money to help pay off your boss's new yacht. That's so dreary. No, let's put this in terms that are germane to you. First, good business means good medicine. If you're part of the generation that worships at the digital altar, you need to bring in enough revenue so the practice can purchase all those silicon-driven diagnostic and treatment aids. If you want to lase, someone has to pays!
Purchasing advanced equipment is all about charging appropriately. If you charge for the services you do offer, you'll generate the income needed to expand into new areas. Plus, it's not just about technology—you also deserve a good income. You offer great value to your clients, so remember that whenever you step into the exam room. Translate that value into production income, and you'll be able to pay off your loans and even buy a sort-of-new car.
3 Business smarts bring personal tranquility.
As an associate you don't need to know all the details of your practice's finances, but the principles of practice management still govern a good part of your life. If you understand practice expenses, you may be more conscious of capturing charges. If you know a little about motivational management, you can help nurture a better working environment. If you understand what ACT means—it's average client transaction, by the way—you can better control your own income.
Some owners don't teach their associates about business, because the owners don't understand it themselves. But there's a bunch of help out there, in print and online. And you associates are always welcome to attend management lectures at every conference. (There will be some great presentations at CVC Central, I hear.) You may or may not be able to introduce new ideas into your practice. But management knowledge will always help you personally. And if you end up buying a practice someday, you'll be ready.
4 I'm proud of what I do.
You don't know how long you'll stay at your current job. There are too many variables to forecast the next year, much less the next three to five years. But go ahead and pretend you'll be in your present position for the rest of your career. Be part of the practice family. Do your best to boost the business as if it'll be yours someday—it might! Even if you do part-time or relief work, you should still contribute wherever you can. If you find yourself daydreaming about some other job, your mind isn't on the task at hand and the clinic will suffer.
Set some short- and long-term goals for yourself that go beyond dealing with today's disasters. Maybe you're interested in promoting staff training, marketing the clinic, learning new procedures—whatever it is, bring that to the practice. Even if you win the lottery tomorrow and move to Tahiti, you'll always enjoy the satisfaction of having made an important contribution to the lives of many people and pets.