Manage medical staff appropriately to build a high-functioning practice team

By Matt Kuhrt

Practicing medicine and running a medical practice are two distinctly different things. A general lack of training with regard to managing a team can create problems for doctors, medical staff and patients alike, according to an article on Slate.

The average personality type drawn to become a doctor tends to be a "workaholic superhero Lone Ranger perfectionist," said Dike Drummond, M.D. That personality, combined with the training doctors receive, serves them well for clinical work, but falls with regard to the interpersonal skills necessary to run a high-functioning team. Poor teamwork can lead to inefficiency and tension, which in turn erodes patient trust and loyalty, as FiercePracticeManagement has previously reported.

Administrative overhead also represents a common frustration for doctors who would prefer to spend their limited time seeing patients rather than dealing with bureaucratic issues. While they can avoid some of those stressors by working for hospitals or large health centers, that comes with its own set of tradeoffs, primarily because the organizational structure removes the doctor's authority when dealing with staff members, according to the article.

Initiatives that steer physicians toward MBA programs that round out their leadership capabilities sound like a logical answer; but in practice, average doctors don't angle for "leadership" roles in hospital or healthcare systems. Drummond recommended doctors make a hard distinction between the clinical and administrative settings. Since the clinic represents the center of a doctor's expertise, logic dictates they ought to focus their energy on making decisions in that context, he said.

In the administrative context, not only do physicians not always have the answers, but a lot of the time they would be better served to delegate the responsibility for researching and executing decisions to staff members. Such an approach not only takes some of the burden off the doctor, according to the article, but also empowers staff members and improves team morale.

To learn more:
- read the Slate article