Healthcare Career Resources is a blog for those who work in the healthcare industry. We cover topics ranging from current events to medical humor as well as more career focused topics such as job search and interview tips. We also publish articles written for healthcare human resources and physician recruiters.
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Consumers today have high expectations when it comes to service. Companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Google have thrived on providing consumers what they want, when they want it. As a result, we are living in an “on-demand” era that has increasingly infiltrated almost every industry, with healthcare being no exception. One may argue that medicine is hardly the same as ordering a video or a new set of bath towels online. However, the reality is that patients are consumers and they are...
Consumers today have high expectations when it comes to service. Companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Google have thrived on providing consumers what they want, when they want it. As a result, we are living in an “on-demand” era that has increasingly infiltrated almost every industry, with healthcare being no exception. One may argue that medicine is hardly the same as ordering a video or a new set of bath towels online. However, the reality is that patients are consumers and they are living in an “on-demand” world. To gain their business and win their loyalty, healthcare organizations and practices must recognize this shift and implement strategies to improve access, convenience, and personalization.
The following are six best practices for building and maintaining patient loyalty:
The expression “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds true in healthcare. It only takes 7 seconds for a first impression to be made and typically it will not be made with the provider, but rather the office staff. This is why it is critical that on the phone or when the patient first arrives, the office and staff should be warm, welcoming, and friendly.
Convenience is paramount in healthcare today. According to a survey by Deloitte, it is one of the top priorities expressed by consumers with regards to their providers (2). Another review from Accenture found that 61% of patients would change providers just to get an appointment more quickly, and over half would switch to get an appointment at a more convenient location (1). The bottom line is that today’s patients want access when, where, and how it suits them, and it increasingly dictates their behaviors regarding healthcare. Consider ways to allow patients to schedule appointments, pay bills, request prescription refills, and access records online. If possible, consider offering same or next day appointments or extended hours to make care more convenient and accessible.
Personalized care is not only a top priority with seniors but also with millennials (2). Patients are seeking a partnership with their providers. They also want their provider to spend sufficient time with them, and not rush through exams. Personalized care does not necessarily require extra cost or more time. It is often just the simple human touch of making the patients feel like they’re valued, respected, and cared for.
Consumers are seeking greater transparency in their health care costs. Nearly 3 in 5 surveyed reported wanting providers to supply cost information (2). As healthcare costs continue to rise, patients are seeking more clear pricing and transparency.
Average wait times for doctor’s appointments are 20 minutes but can be increasingly longer depending on the type of physician (5). In addition, it takes an average of 24 days to schedule a first-time appointment with a physician, according to The 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates (4). The bottom line is that patients don’t want to wait. One in five patients have switched providers when a wait time has become too long (3). The failure to recognize or implement strategies to improve long wait times could severely reduce a practice’s ability to attract, retain, and satisfy their patient base.
Many practices have found the use of secure messaging helpful in communicating with patients. Office staff can send patients email, text, or phone reminders regarding appointments. Consider using a patient portal so patients can complete paperwork, access updates, and submit insurance information from home, so they are ready when the physician is. It is also necessary to have a policy in place for no-shows and late arrivals. Regardless of how efficient a practice is, wait times will happen, so ensure your waiting room is comfortable with plenty of up-to-date reading materials. Providing free wifi or TV entertainment can also go a long way.
One of the most important, yet often forgotten practices, is following up with the patients after they have left the building. Building patient trust and loyalty involves ongoing communication. It also helps improve the quality of care, increases patient satisfaction, and keeps patients coming back. There are many tools that can help practices stay in contact with their patients, through email, text, or social media.
Today’s healthcare providers have such an enormous amount on their plates, it remains a constant battle to find enough time. Those practices that are able to implement strategies focused on greater personalization, access, convenience, and quality care will ultimately win the consumer’s business. Finding the right balance can be challenging, but the real reward comes with building a strong physician-patient relationship and gaining their trust and loyalty.
The USMLE Step 1 has multiple questions, each requiring a unique strategy to arrive at the best answer. Here are 9 tips to help you finish your USMLE test on time, if not early, and get maximum answers right.
The USMLE Step 1 has multiple questions, each requiring a unique strategy to arrive at the best answer. Here are 9 tips to help you finish your USMLE test on time, if not early, and get maximum answers right.
The importance of practice tests simply cannot be overstated. They are the best way to ace your Step 1. Ideally, you should start your USMLE Step 1 prep with review books during your M1 and M2. These review books have Step 1 style questions so you can familiarize yourself with the questions and use the resources for daily practice during your study time.
Most USMLE Step 1 questions are complicated and lengthy and you cannot always rely on the information provided to you in the stem. For instance, you may get a long patient case which ends with the question, “Which is the most common cause of hypertension?” for which you don’t really need all the information of the patient’s case.
Once you’ve read the question, try not to look for the answer options and come up with an answer in your head. Then look for the option in the answer choices. This approach will keep you from getting confused or distracted and help you find the best answer. For instance, you may have thought of Vitamin C, but the answer choices may have ascorbic acid.
If you are spending more than a few minutes on every answer, then find the most appropriate option in your answer choices first or mark the answer for later when you have time left towards the end of the USMLE test.
Your USMLE questions are not in the order of difficulty, so you can always surf for easier answers first and then get back to the more difficult ones.
Have a method for watching your timer. Give a couple of minutes for a block during which you can answer a certain number of questions. This will help you stay on track, even when you’re answering long stems and complicated questions.
It is preferable to read questions from top to bottom because it’s often found that USMLE questions typically move towards a specific answer and the facts work to reinforce important parts in a manner that cannot be done effectively when you go line by line.
So the facts make previous tidbits relevant, and the stem tends to provide momentum to what actually matters while keeping distractions at bay. However, if the whole stem looks long and complex, just give the final line a glance because it can prove to be a big time saver.
Lab details and vitals are provided with physio questions, but if the patient comes with fever, tenderness, and RLQ pain, and nausea, you can safely conclude that he is suffering from appendicitis. In this case, all the lab results and overwhelming vitals are just unnecessary or irrelevant.
A key time management tip for USMLE Step 1 is trying not to agonize between two reasonable answer choices. You can think of any information that will help you differentiate between the options, and if you are still unsure, then simply go with your gut and move on the next USMLE question.
Any epiphany is not worth holding on to because it may trigger anxiety or lead to under-performance, so maintain that air of nonchalance.
A rule of thumb is not changing the answers unless you are absolutely sure. Test psychology states that your gut feeling is more likely to be correct and any further contemplation is only going to waste your time. So when you make your final choice, even if you’re guessing, don’t go back and change it later.
Yes! No! Definitely! Definitely not! Maybe. Yes, it’s a definite maybe! Early, late, half-time, never? You first. NEVER you first. When? How? Where? You changed your mind. Paper, email, text, a singing telegram? Get in their face; be demure. NEVER use these words; ALWAYS use these words. Is the market up or down? Wear blue. Wear black. Wear scrubs. Such are the agonies, uncertainties, and the perseveration of negotiating a salary. You shouldn’t have to suffer so much – you did enough...
Yes! No! Definitely! Definitely not! Maybe. Yes, it’s a definite maybe! Early, late, half-time, never? You first. NEVER you first. When? How? Where? You changed your mind. Paper, email, text, a singing telegram? Get in their face; be demure. NEVER use these words; ALWAYS use these words. Is the market up or down? Wear blue. Wear black. Wear scrubs.
Such are the agonies, uncertainties, and the perseveration of negotiating a salary. You shouldn’t have to suffer so much – you did enough of that during your training. I’m providing some excuses you can use to avoid the discomfort of salary negotiation. Try them on before your interview. You’ll find something. If you don’t find a good fit, don’t worry. The universe never runs out of excuses.
Excuse #1: It could cause a tense start.
No one wants to make adversaries before the first day on the job. Unfortunately, this excuse is easy to debunk. Negotiating a salary is one of the tasks of hiring. Employers do it all the time. They expect it. If you don’t negotiate, you may seem awfully naïve – too naïve. So, you’re uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you’re doing the wrong thing, Remember your first driving lesson? Your first date? Those were uncomfortable, but here you are to tell the tales.
Excuse #2: They might retract the offer. They reviewed your application; you both have invested time and money in interviews, and possibly expenses for travel. They aren’t going to throw that effort away just because you make a (reasonable) counter-offer. The worst-case scenario is that they’ll say, “Our offer is firm.”
Excuse #3: I don’t know what I’m worth.
This is true for too many people, sabotaging their own value. Ignorance lessens worth. There are many Internet sites which supply salary information in almost any field. Physicians and other providers should look to salary surveys produced by organizations such as Medscape or if you can get your hands on it, the annual MGMA physician compensation survey.
Excuse #4: They’ve already offered their top salary limit.
If you can make yourself believe this, I’d like to sell you the London Bridge. It’s in Arizona now.
Excuse #5: I don’t want to seem greedy.
What if your counter offer triggers resentment and the company doesn’t want someone who refuses to accept a good offer? Even if the company told you that their first offer was their best offer, they’ve almost always left some room for negotiation if your counter offer is reasonable.
Excuse #6: I’ll get started, and then ask for a raise.
No tension there. You won’t look greedy before you sign on, and you don’t even have to know your worth. Most companies, however, have firm rules about a time frame for considering a change in salary – usually there will be no changes considered for 6 months to a year. Future raises are often based on a percentage of the salary. You could adversely affect your income for the duration that you’re with the company. A 5.0 percent raise based on an annual salary of $50K is a lot higher than a raise based on $45K.
Excuse #7: Negotiating is difficult and complicated, and I’ll just make a fool of myself.”
If this is your thinking, you’re probably right.
Excuse #8: I’m happy with the offer.
The offer they made was much higher than you expected, but then you find a co-worker with the same qualifications and experience as you, also a new hire, is making 10 percent more than you are making. Just try not to ruminate on that from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. You may get to spend your evening kicking yourself for not knowing the market value for your skills. So – please negotiate. Give what you perceive as surplus to a charity, foundation, or me.
With the exception of #7, I’ve failed to supply you with pseudo-excuses with which you can deceive yourself. The best things you can do, regarding salary negotiation, are:
Negotiating is both you and the employer investing in each other. You’re working at meeting both parties’ needs. Everyone is more productive in an atmosphere of good will. It builds your sense of security – they invested in you. Most of the time, it will get you a higher salary and more.
Virtually all companies expect negotiation, and will respect you more than if you fail to negotiate. The employees in greatest demand are those who are critical thinkers, productivity-minded, and business-literate.
Many organizations face challenges when creating training programs that meet the needs of employees, especially staff who work nights and weekends. Smaller organizations find it difficult to train staff that work nights and weekends. Developing other forms of training access will reduce payroll costs and increase employee satisfaction and engagement by showing your consideration of their personal...
Employee engagement is a phrase thrown around a lot these days. It benefits the organization by increasing retention, improved patient safety, increased morale, and increased profit to name a few. Engaged employees are said to be energized, productive, and satisfied. It is up to the employee and the employer to contribute to the success of the initiative. Employees need to be open and take ownership, and the organization must create programs to support the initiative.
An employee engagement program implemented at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital showed excellent results. “When Misty Freeman, RN, MHA, CSN, NE-BC, was named the ED’s director of nursing in April 2013, she learned that employee engagement was in the 19th percentile and survey participation rates were only 54%. What’s more, those scores had remained flat the preceding five years, indicating that the staff was disengaged for some time. “In any organization, but especially in a busy ED like ours, it’s crucial to have strong employee engagement,” Freeman said. “That’s what drives behavior that supports high-quality care.” Not only that, employee engagement improved to 82% and participation improved 90% in 2015 (Press Ganey 2016).
Employee engagement reduces turnover that is at least 5% of a healthcare organization’s overall budget. The highest turnover for all employees in the first year is a whopping 28.3% and 25.5% with up to 5 years employment according to the National Health Care Retention Report by Nursing Solutions 2018. Not only that, engaged employees are 47% more likely to have more empathy and concern for patients than those who are disengaged.
Lastly, career development opportunities were among the top ten drivers for nurse engagement according to Nursing World (January 2016), which is the focus of the rest of the article.
A successful development program should include:
Many organizations face challenges when creating training programs that meet the needs of employees, especially staff who work nights and weekends. Smaller organizations find it difficult to train staff that work nights and weekends. Developing other forms of training access will reduce payroll costs and increase employee satisfaction and engagement by showing your consideration of their personal time.
That said, the following options could be made available to all staff.
In Person: Assign a staff development specialist to work the weekend/night shift so staff can attend training during their work hours. It is preferable by staff, but sometimes that is not possible for night and weekend staff. Typically employees who work weekdays receive this option.
Video Training: Take advantage of new opportunities available by filming your weekday training sessions (including any Q&A) and produce a podcast. The cost is minimal and provides flexibility. In the podcast, include an introduction explaining why the training is needed, such as unit specific training on new equipment or procedures or if it’s organization-wide training, explain how it furthers the mission or helps reach organizational goals. Create an atmosphere where they feel included. Your staff will appreciate it.
Further, include an assessment at the end of CBT to track results. Doing so allows your staff to complete the training at home or work. It benefits both the organization by reducing payroll cost and the employee by allowing flexibility.
Professional Training: Not all healthcare organizations can create professional training outside the workplace. However, if it is within your budget, establishing a relationship with a nearby 2-year college and developing specific courses will benefit employees and the organization. With this option, it is best to set up a tuition reimbursement program. Not only does this promote skill development toward advancement, but it would also benefit the organization by establishing a pipeline for those targeted for leadership roles in the succession plan as baby boomers retire.
How do you target employees for leadership roles? One surefire method is to implement the 9-box system. This system enables you to select certain employees using specific criteria to determine who has the capability for leadership roles. The ability for staff to participate in this development program will encourage staff to stay with you — especially those whose career goals include leadership healthcare roles. Follow this link for a free e-book with more information about the 9-box system.
Training and education is an excellent option for increasing employee engagement and reducing turnover as shown above. If your organization needs transformation, consider this as part of your initiative.
...I was not fully vested and would have to forfeit over $67,000. Poof...Gone forever. Holy shit. Seriously?!? What a painful lesson. One I never want to repeat, and one I hope you never have to face. If only I would have used a financial advisor at the start, this painful lesson could have been avoided, before plowing blindly ahead into investments I didn't fully...
The die was already cast a few days before, but a broad smile creased my lips. My finger poised over the send button. Beneath my gaze sat my formal resignation letter. After fifteen years, I’d had enough and was poised to chart my own course.
It was done!
And that is how I lost $67,500 in less than a minute.
Rewind eight years, and you’d find me sitting at a tiny table in a side conference room with the HR director of an expanding physician group. I don’t recall the exact number, but we were a few hundred strong and growing. I was sure this was my final contract as a physician; this was my dream job. The benefits were substantial, the group private and democratic. I was mainly in charge of my schedule and department. No more nights, weekends, or holidays.
Like illness, a career in medicine is unpredictable. A few short years later, our group was bought out, and everything changed. Control was a faded memory, and the impressive benefits package decimated.
My resolve to leave was sealed.
A few months later, I received the usual quarterly investment statement revealing my assets, along with a reminder that I would have to “do something” with these accounts, as I was no longer an employee. I contacted my existing advisor and began the process. It seemed simple – just a few signatures here and there and a quick discussion about my risk tolerance.
Then the Alphabet Issue popped up on my radar. What were these accounts with “C” and “F” attached to them? While I may know a lot about ABCD2 for Stroke or CHADS scoring, this was new territory for me. Why couldn’t I roll everything over to my new broker? What I quickly learned was painful. I was not fully vested and would have to forfeit over $67,000.
Holy shit. Seriously?!?
What a painful lesson. One I never want to repeat, and one I hope you never have to face. If only I would have used a financial advisor at the start, this painful lesson could have been avoided, before plowing blindly ahead into investments I didn’t fully understand.
As physicians, we pride ourselves on our intellect and ability to master complex knowledge and hone our skills. Many of us feel we are the best to determine how to manage our financial world as well.
Consider the above as a prime case of why not.
I want to define a few terms and share some thoughts on how and why you must consider working with a financial expert critical to your financial health.
First, a brief discussion of the players in the game (my explanation, but do your own due diligence):
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) — Certification requires passing an exam. These professionals are bound to a code of ethics and have work experience requirements. CFPs are generally experts in estate and tax planning, insurance, and retirement planning.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) — With three years experience in the field and certifying exams, these professionals can help you focus on stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and insurance.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) — These professionals are the heavy hitters when it comes to tax planning. They have completed college programs and take a rigorous certifying exam. CPAs are essential for financial planning and business ventures.
Personal Finance Specialist (PFS) — Think of these as super CPAs who have passed additional exams. Their extensive experience can guide you through financial planning and accounting issues.
Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) — As specialists manage the assets of high net worth individuals. They also represent mutual and hedge funds, insurance companies, and can work for endowments.
Your chosen professional may hold several of these titles. We will get down to some qualifying questions shortly, but first, you may be asking how they can help you. Here are a few opportunities. If you don’t know what all entail, then that is clear signal you need guidance.
Still not convinced? Perhaps a non-human advisor is right for you. Consider hiring a roboadvisor. I confess I use both human and an AI version based on algorithms. A starting place might be Weathfront (my link: http://wlth.fr/1na79NV). I’m starting one for my son as a birthday gift.
This option is among the lowest cost, and their computer algorithms can deliver decent performance. I like the hybrid option of having the opportunity of a human expert to consult with when desired. You’ll have to decide what’s right for you and what risk tolerance is comfortable for you. Keep in mind, I’m a physician, and like many of you, my financial education formally ended with freshman accounting 101.
To wrap things up, I want to share a few questions you may pose to a potential advisor:
The final piece of advice is to educate yourself. While there are a ton of resources, I’m only going to suggest three:
While it took a few years, I can now look back on my blunder and chuckle. The freedom of going it my own way was well worth it. I’d be happy to share my journey; feel free to reach out to me on social media.
It’s time for job descriptions to break free of the regulation rut and become a dynamic, evolving document that not only outlines the work but sells potential candidates on joining your team. Advertisements that are candidate-centric are more likely to generate a high response rate, and they start with job descriptions that do the same. With a job description that’s written with candidate need in mind, you can easily translate them into an advertisement that draws...
Most job descriptions are lengthy, detailed, and dull. The average job description for any institution that’s been around for decades is decades old. In the days when the Personnel Department spent the bulk of its time protecting the facility from its own employees with legal-speak meant to maintain regulation-compliance, the job description was no exception.
It’s time for job descriptions to break free of the regulation rut and become a dynamic, evolving document that not only outlines the work but sells potential candidates on joining your team. Advertisements that are candidate-centric are more likely to generate a high response rate, and they start with job descriptions that do the same. With a job description that’s written with candidate need in mind, you can easily translate them into an advertisement that draws interest.
A great job description and posting sells the applicant on working at your facility. What they need to know about the job is the beginning; learning about the benefits of working with you can tip the scales in your favor. Every communication from your institution is an opportunity to boost your brand in the market and to applicants. Job descriptions/postings that are candidate-centric address the needs of the job seeker and position your facility as the best place to work.
As you look through the compliance-centric job descriptions on hand, consider how you can flip the focus to the candidate or employee, rather than the institution. Is the laundry list of itemized duties worthwhile? While it’s probably listed as a responsibility, are physicians referring to their j/d to remind them to issue prescriptions to patients? While some detail is necessary to include, minutiae may be overkill. Candidate-centric descriptions are informative, dynamic, and motivating. If you’re hesitant to lose the laundry list, consider them as an addendum to the original job description.
Job descriptions that focus on institutional needs list duties and responsibilities: But physicians, for example, know what their work entails, so duties can be summarized. The focus on candidate needs provides detail on the environment in which they will work and the support the institution provides.
What does an applicant want to know about your vacancy? Compensation and benefits are high on the list, but working conditions and amenities are likely a very close second. Patient volumes, scheduling details (call schedules), practice type, etc. give a more rounded picture of the workload and demands on the candidate.
Information about the facility, awards or rankings you hold, demonstrate the applicant is considering a top-tier move. Amenities, either at the facility or in the community, outline the atmosphere they can expect. Details about the institution and/or department dynamics provide insight into the culture of the group.
Incentives you offer are great ways to sell your institution, financial and otherwise. Partnership terms, flexible scheduling options, research opportunities and more should be included. Whatever makes working for your facility attractive should top the list when creating a candidate-centric job description and posting.
In a normal talent pool, a job description/posting that focuses at least as much on the needs of the employee as those of the institution is a must; in today’s agonizingly tight talent market, it’s mission-critical. A job description/posting is their first glimpse at your facility; it can pique their interest about what you have to offer, or send them on to the next. To draw them to your institution, you’ll need to meet and often exceed their demands and the posting is the first step on that path.
When applicants are plentiful healthcare providers can be demanding, but in today’s market, it’s the candidates that are demanding. Ask yourself which posting would attract your attention: one that speaks to the facilities’ demands or your own? A candidate-centric posting nets results.
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