All Aboard: Physician Onboarding in 2016
During my travels, I experience the same angst and trepidation of many other passengers. Will I get an aisle seat? Will my flight be on time? Will they have my car rental and hotel reservation? Yet, on my most recent trip, I realized how minor my travel problems were compared to the problems physicians encounter when relocating their practices to a new city.
In 2015, approximately 92,000 (12%) of physicians moved to a new opportunity. A great majority of these physicians were recruited to their new practice setting. One of the key factors in retaining these newly recruited doctors is an efficient, structured onboarding process. Many believe onboarding starts when the physician relocates to their new community, but effective onboarding practices start well before the doctor gets to town, and even extend into their first year of practice.
In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande discusses how checklists can assist in managing complex situations and reducing errors. The same philosophy is true when it comes to physician onboarding. Using an onboarding checklist increases productivity, makes the new physician happier, and provides cost savings. There are many great examples of onboarding checklists available online.
When recruiting a new physician, make sure they also have a copy of the checklist to ensure transparency. Providing a copy for the spouse is a nice touch as onboarding the family can be just as important as onboarding the physicians. My mom had a sign in her kitchen that reads “If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy”, and truer words have never been spoken. Many successful facilities across the nation incorporate family onboarding into their checklist system as it can be the key to physician retention.
It is important to remember onboarding continues into the physician’s first year of practice. During the first 90 days of relocation, it is not uncommon for the physician to feel unsure in their new environment. In order to prevent an early exit interview, I always recommend “stay interviews”. These are not performance evaluations, but rather informal and casual one-on-one meetings conducted 30, 60, 90 and 180 days after the physician begins practicing. The topic of the conversation should be about how the doctor feels they “fit in” with others in the practice or hospital both clinically and philosophically. I also recommend “stay interviews” with the family to see how they are acclimating to their new home and surroundings.
Onboarding is the one of the first key steps in retaining physicians. The time alone to recruit a new physician is about 200 man hours from start to finish. So it makes sense to establish strong, open lines of communication with the physician and family from the start to avoid any mishaps. Always remember the mantra: Check twice, onboard once!
||A Raised Hand will address the questions and concerns of healthcare facilities on emerging trends and offer practical solutions to some of the most pressing staffing challenges today. Kurt Mosley, Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company, is nationally recognized as a leading authority on a wide range of health care staffing issues and trends.
A nationally noted speaker and frequently cited expert, Mr. Mosley has addressed dozens of state hospital associations and other health professional groups across the country. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow his updates on Twitter at @kurt_mosley.