3 must-read stories for practice managers

I have a confession to make. As much as I harp on work-life balance and boundaries, I personally subscribe to neither. My work is about healthcare. Health is essential to life. Every day, I think about how healthcare affects my life, and how my life experience colors my views about healthcare. I have the privilege of having a presence in your work day, but I can't tell you that the face you see and voice you read are strictly a professional persona. (I had to ask a friend crop my infant daughter out of my headshot, for example.)

Over the past three years, I've had the opportunity to share some of my most deeply personal experiences and translate them into a practice-management context. I don't open up like this because I'm low on dry, impersonal ideas, but because once I get behind a keyboard I often can't help but go there. Some of my most personal--and well received--commentaries have included the following:

  • Why there's always time for laughter in medicine
  • How to win a patient for life
  • A simple story about an amazing patient experience

But my own stories aren't the only ones that affect me or my views on healthcare and life in general. This week, I want to use this forum to share with you a smattering of material I read this week that made me stop and say, "Wow." They might not all have an obvious link to healthcare or practice management, but as human beings in the epitome of the helping professions, I think you'll get it.

Without further ado, here's my recommended reading list for any person in the business of caring for other people:

I love you because I love you, a blog post by therapist Sheryl Paul. This post might be more touchy-feely than I'd normally admit to reading, but there are messages within it that everyone should hear. It will make you think about how you've formed your own ambitions, your expectations of others and the priceless value of appreciating the essence of another person, rather than just his or her achievements. Paul's writing uses parenting as a framework, but the themes translate easily to an earlier FiercePracticeManagement discussion about appreciating patients. Similar thinking can also trickle down to the way managers nurture and engage their employees.

"I need to show you something:" When patients bring photographs, a post by Boston Globe blogger Dr. Suzanne Koven. The applicability of this story to physician practices is more obvious. Most of you reading this post are busy, possibly wishing right at this moment that I were a little less long-winded, and might feel an inner twinge of dread if you start to see a patient extract photographs for you to admire during a 15-minute office visit. But as Koven so eloquently expressed, pictures tell a story (rather efficiently) for which your patients may not have words. They show where they've come from, who they are and sometimes what makes them tick. Much like our earlier advice to seize the opportunity to indulge in a good laugh in the exam room once in a while, if a patient brings a photograph specifically to show you, look for the underlying purpose, even if it's just to be understood more deeply.

The secret to getting really, really good at something, a Forbes blog post by Erika Andersen, leadership expert and founding partner of Proteus International. No matter what our chosen profession, avocation or purpose, we can always do better. As individuals and organizations, there is no limit to the knowledge or skills we can master, nor the dividends in which doing so will pay. But as Andersen explained, committing to really getting anything is daunting if not downright terrifying. But with perseverance, confidence and a couple other essential ingredients, it most certainly can be done.

Have you seen anything recently that you consider must-read material for your colleagues? Feel free to share your recommendations and links in the comments! - Deb (@PracticeMgt)


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