LMS President’s Message: Physicians Need to Learn How to Work with their New Bosses
By Khalil Rahman, MD, MBA
Over the last decade, physicians have left private practices and joined hospitals to avoid the day-to-day hassle of owning a medical practice. The transition from boss to employee is not easy in any field and it seems to be more daunting for physicians. To be successful in the role as an employee requires a certain skill set. First you must get to know your boss well enough to understand what qualities and behaviors the boss values. Knowing yourself is important too. Managing expectations, make necessary changes, communicating with a clear point of view, negotiating with diplomacy, listening and understanding the issues important to your boss, grows the relationship as it progresses. This is a simple and sensible approach to working with your boss to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship.
As the physician, remember that you are there for the patient. You presumably left your private medical practice to spend more time providing patient care. You may feel frustrated when your schedule is overbooked, leaving no time to develop the patient-physician relationship. You may feel like you are working at a Toyota motor plant with a quota to meet. Remember to start cultivating a strong, trusting relationship from day one with your organization, this will allow you to get things done by obtaining the resources you need to provide the best medical care. With a solid foundation, you and your boss will be able to solve this type of problem as they arise.
You and your organization have different priorities, responsibilities to fulfill, rules to abide by, and a different set of personal accountabilities. This leads to a complex relationship, potential conflicts and difficult to maintain a good relationship. You can get valuable information by communicating with other physicians who know the organization better and have been working at that institution longer than you. Stay true to your own style of communication, but show a willingness to modify your approach to foster a productive relationship with your boss and administration. The ideal relationship with your organization is when both parties set clear expectations of each other. Fulfill your key responsibilities in a timely manner. Find the most efficient way to deliver these responsibilities while meeting the standard of medical care. I cannot emphasize how important it is to work collegially with other physicians, nurses, and support staff, to overcome differences, with the aim of achieving the goals of the institution. Physicians need to understand the limitations of any organization they are working for. They cannot get everything they want, getting frustrated will not help your cause. Make your case as clear as possible, show the patient benefits and positive revenue for the organization. Effective communication is the key to solving most problems.
Every physician who’s looking for a change, moving forward from ownership to employment, should be ready to accept changes- both good and bad. By accepting the changes and making adjustments will make life easier.
Khalil Rahman, MD, MBA.