Staying power: Give Dr. New tools to succeed

September 1, 2008

Successfully orienting and retaining a new physician in your practice.

You've made the decision to add another physician to your practice.

Joining an existing practice may seem like the chance of a lifetime, but fitting into an established urology group can bring unexpected challenges. Some new physicians tell me they feel as if they are floating at sea without a life raft.

Identify the physician's role

Identify (in advance) what the new physician's role will be. What types of patients will he or she see? Will the decision be based on his or her areas of interest or on patient demographics, or will the new doctor's role be simply to take on the overload? How will new patients be assigned? Will it be based on next available appointment, work-ins, or a round-robin schedule? Whatever the role is, it needs to be consistent and communicated in advance.

Develop a formal introduction and orientation process. Dr. New needs to clearly understand the role of each person in the practice. I suggest you prepare a written synopsis for each staff member, how long they've been with the practice, and their primary responsibility.

Develop a plan to introduce the new physician to the community and to current patients. Make a splash when you introduce Dr. New. Here are a few ideas to consider:

The integration plan should include a full day's orientation for Dr. New to meet with the manager. The manager needs to be prepared to discuss office policies, protocols, and standards for documentation, charge reporting methods, responding to phone calls, and other important issues, such as which support staff members will be assigned to assist him. This session should be followed by assigning a physician mentor for Dr. New to shadow in the first few days on the job.

Because both practice dynamics and office tasks change when another physician is added to the mix, prepare the staff. Be sure they understand what is expected of each of them in supporting the physician's needs and remind them that customer service should not be compromised in the process.