During the first few years of practice, it's not unusual to dig through textbooks, go online, or read up on cases during spare time. But somewhere around the third year of practice, most of us gain a level of comfort with medicine that stems late-night reading. We go on autopilot.
In prior articles, I gave advice on creating and writing a strong, compelling vision for your life and work. But crafting the vision is just the first step. Next you must figure out how to make your vision a reality.
I've played hockey for many years, often once or twice a week. One day it dawned on me I wasn't improving. Instead I was doing the same wrong things over and over--I was playing but not practicing. Finally, I took a skills class and was amazed at how much I didn't know.
Last month, we discussed the power of crafting a compelling practice vision. The next step: putting your vision in writing. As you're writing, see your vision as an already-accomplished reality, not merely as something you hope will happen. Write in the first person and present tense, creating a vivid mental image with as much detail as possible to bring your vision to life. Use all your senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—to develop your description.
Growing up in the South, I quickly learned that there were certain subjects one simply should not talk about in mixed company--religion, politics, and money. There are similar touchy topics in business, such as pay raises and compensation plans, staff disagreements, a desire to make important changes in the practice, and disagreement about management styles. Although we'd like to avoid these topics, they need to be discussed.
Every year, practice owners review their employees, telling them what they did well and how they could improve. But have you ever taken time to give yourself a year-end review? Whether you're the boss, an associate, or a support staff member, you can benefit from evaluating your year, says Jinny Ditzler, author of Your Best Year Yet! A Proven Method for Making the Next Twelve Months the Most Successful Ever (Warner Books, 2000).