As a physician, landing a new practice opportunity is cause for well-deserved celebration. It also signifies the beginning of a new journey – one in which you’re bound to experience some great successes, as well as a few bumps in the road.
During the on-site physician interview, both you and your new employer were evaluating cultural fit. Being aligned with the mission and values is a key driver of your happiness within the role, and the facility’s chances of achieving long-term physician retention.
Even with a strong culture fit, newly hired physicians still must identify key relationship dynamics among staff, colleagues and the leadership team. It can be stressful to navigate the internal politics that are unique to every organization. A recent study by a talent management software provider suggested that 53% of employees say they felt on-the-job pressure to get involved in workplace politics simply in order to get ahead – which can be a huge drain of emotional energy, if not managed effectively.
And in the search for a positive work-life balance – which is often a big reason physicians change jobs in the first place – finding some tools to get off to a great start in a new career setting is important.
Maximize the Benefits of Onboarding
The onboarding process is fundamentally important to your long-term success, as it covers everything from settling in a new community, becoming integrated in the facility, invested in the culture, and learning the unique processes of a new care setting.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, the two primary goals of an employee’s first day on the job should be setting expectations, in addition to getting to know the team, as quickly as possible.
Communication is critical, so it’s a good idea to ask for a schedule of your first week before arriving, which will give you a good idea of who you’ll be meeting with – and allow you time to do a bit of research on the key players.
And keep that communication front and center as you begin to learn the workings of your new care environment – speak with your key staff, colleagues and leadership as much as you can. A lunch or dinner with staff is also a great way to get to understand the realities and responsibilities of a new role, so if they haven’t been scheduled already, consider extending an invitation. It’s an easy way to feel more welcomed within the organization, and you can also learn more about the cultural norms of the facility, in a less formal setting.
Finally, be open about any shortcomings in the orientation process, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Then, take it one step further and consider how professional coaching could help you assimilate quicker and, ultimately, further your career.
Professional Coaching Helps You See What You Can’t
Many doctors are finding that professional, specialized coaching can be a lifesaver when it comes to more seamlessly integrating into a new position and maximizing their career potential. As well-intentioned as physicians are, they are still human. And, even the most enlightened have blind spots that inhibit their ability to build and maintain strong working relationships.
Much like the mentor arrangements many physicians find in medical school, a professional coach can help smooth the adjustment into a new role. In a healthcare setting, coaching can also help create better boundaries that may contribute to a healthy work-life balance, as well as help establish professional habits that will turn a new job into a long and satisfying part of your medical career.
Let’s review five important benefits of professional coaching and why it’s a wise investment in your future.
Reduces Physician Burnout
According to a 2019 Mayo Clinic study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, physicians who received six sessions of professional on-the-job coaching had a considerable reduction in emotional exhaustion and the various symptoms associated with physician burnout. They also expressed significant improvements in their overall quality of life, and their ability to remain resilient in the face of stress.
As the study notes, one-on-one coaching can help complement traditional healthcare workplace mentoring and peer support systems by building motivation, self-awareness and the proactive ability to take effective action to resolve issues and solve problems – by accessing their strengths and skills to better handle work-related stress.
A Duke University study on coaching’s benefits also suggests that coaching can help build emotional intelligence in even high-level professionals: “…It allowed many [physicians] to become more compassionate with themselves when they were not able to accomplish what they would like. …Coaching helped them become more flexible with and tolerant of the daily challenges that came their way.”
Eases the Transition to a New Position
Dr. Les Schwab is an internist with Atrius Health, and also serves as the Harnisch Scholar at the Institute of Coaching. He told the American Medical Association that physician coaching can be important at any stage of a medical career, but especially helpful when transitioning to a new role.
“Wherever you’re at, you’re on some rung of your developmental ladder, and you’re reaching for the next one,” he said. “Whether it’s the guy struggling to get his charts done, the midcareer doctor learning to revitalize his work, or the division chief learning to be an effective leader – all have new challenges to master. Coaching [aims to help] you reach wherever your attainment needs to take you.”
Creates Space for Self-Reflection to Keep Career Goals on Track
And physician-specific coaching really can pay off. Cardiologist Toniya Singh, MBBS, FACC, a partner at St. Louis Heart and Vascular, told the American College of Cardiology how a professional coach helped her adapt to a potentially stressful new role as chief of staff at a hospital.
“[Coaching] helps to keep me on track and ensure I am making the progress that I want,” Singh said. “Every month, I am forced to stop and think about my priorities, and how I am going to address them with my coach. The fact that I am spending time clarifying these problems is perhaps just as valuable as the coaching itself. It is helpful for all physicians to get an outside perspective on self-confidence, work challenges and more.”
Diane Scott, a certified professional coach with three decades of healthcare experience, says, “coaching increases a physician’s capacity as a leader, which contributes to improved patient satisfaction ratings, deeper levels of engagement, and growth for the organization as a whole.”
Drives Improved Patient Satisfaction, Minimizes Malpractice Risks
Physician coaching has also been shown to increase patient satisfaction scores and improve adherence and outcomes, as well as bettering staff relationships and even cutting down on malpractice costs. Dr. Dean Dalili, president of hospital medicine for Envision Healthcare, says a coaching program in his facility led to a 91% retention rate for specialists, with improved performance and patient scores across the board.
Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public health worker, admits he was initially reluctant about the idea of personal coaching, but explains in a New Yorker article that like a top athlete or performer, the one-on-one direction and goal-setting helped him reach his personal best.
That personal insight and goal setting can help make the difference in creating a positive and healthy relationship with both management and nursing staff. Perhaps now more than ever, the healthcare workplace is a high-pressure environment, and coaching can help in fostering a culture that promotes engagement, fairness, respect and communication.
Promotes Culture Assimilation
A LinkedIn study suggested that 70% of professionals would not choose to take a job with an organization if it meant dealing with challenging workplace culture; your role in the first days and weeks of your new position is to help make sure you fit – and thrive – in a new job, so you can provide the best care possible to your patients.
A job change is never easy, but getting off on the right foot can be a great way to make that big move the best move you’ve made so far in your career.
Jackson Physician Search has nationwide reach and a team of recruitment professionals with decades of healthcare industry experience. Search our open positions today and take the next step in finding a role that meets your career and lifestyle needs.
With so much about the COVID-19 crisis still unknown, and with no clear end in sight, physicians should continue to monitor levels of depression and stress – even if you’re currently coping well…
Much has been written about the levels of burnout being experienced by physicians in today’s healthcare environment. Here are several ways to combat burnout and achieve a better work-life balance…