How to Choose the Right Staff for Your Medical Practice

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There’s a lot to consider when selecting the right staff for your medical practice.

First of all, you’ll want to consider the culture of the workplace, and select a group of people who embody a similar value set. Cultural fit is important to all kinds of businesses, not just Silicon Valley-based tech companies.

Because, hiring the right people is an art, here’s a few things you should note before making a hiring decision.

Understand Your Needs

 Going in, you’ll want to assess your needs before making any hiring decisions. Sumul Gandhi, a Mohs surgeon based in Quincy, IL says, “I wanted a to hire to registered nurse as opposed to a medical assistant so that the nurse could take a leadership role in my clinic and be the leader for all the support staff.” This is key, as a newer doctor setting up his practice, Gandhi saw the value in hiring someone who could play a key leadership role and take on some of the burden of training newer staff members, as time went on.

Because Gandhi works in a medical group, he didn’t need to account for finding an administrative staff. If you’re opening an independent practice, you’ll want to consider filling the following positions, as these people will play a critical role in making your business run smoothly:

  • Office Manager—This person keeps things together by handling all the admin tasks in your office. This person will be more critical in busier office spaces, and will handle all staffing issues like sick and vacation days, billing, accounting, payroll and more. Additionally, they should be able to fill in for a medical assistant or receptionist should they be out of the office.
  • Receptionist—Responsible for answering incoming calls, billing patients and more, a good receptionist should be able to room patients as well as have some understanding of the clinical side of the practice.
  • Medical assistants—Look for people who can quickly and accurately take vitals and get find out why the patient is visiting, and move the patient quickly through the full process of the visit. MAs should be able to fill in for the office manager or receptionist if they are out of the office or on a break.

Ideally, all support staff should be cross-trained for maximum efficiency, and be team players. A small clinic relies on everyone doing their part, as well as filling roles that may stray a bit from their typical job description.

Take Your Time

Look, as a newer doctor, it can be rough trying to pick the best from a pool of applicants. Perhaps some have a lot of experience, but aren’t exactly quite right. Take your time, and listen to what each, nurse or medical system has to offer. You’ll want to find people who can keep up with you, who don’t require hand-holding, as they’ll be a critical asset when things start to get busy and you need support.

While it may be tempting to lock down the first person that comes along, you don’t want to regret your decision, and then end up firing that person after a short period of time. It goes without saying, letting people go on a regular basis really gives other staff a sense of demoralization and doesn’t give way to a positive work environment.

Here’s Gandhi again, “Thankfully we had a few internal applicants who were interested in the position. After looking through a number of applicants and conducting phone interviews, I hired a nurse who’d been at the group for a while but had been interested in joining the dermatology department.  As I interviewed her for the position, I saw that she had a personal reason for her interest and showed a passion for learning far above what I expected to see, which were confirmed to me when we started working together.”

Don’t Dismiss People Who Don’t Have All of the Qualifications

Perhaps your practice falls under a very niche medical field, or maybe you’re based in a very small town. Either way, your situation may narrow the herd of qualified applicants.  But don’t fret. Newer nurses or medical assistants may come equipped with a certain level of enthusiasm that can make up for what they lack in experience.

In Gandhi’s case, working in the small town of Quincy, IL (only 40,000 residents!) meant there weren’t many people with Mohs clinic experience to choose from, or even dermatology. He says starting small and finding that single nurse was the best possible decision.

A Positive Environment Will Keep Patients Coming Back

Not to beat this idea into the ground, but hiring the right people will help take your new medical practice and make it a true asset for the community. From keeping the same friendly faces on hand all year round, to developing a consistent workflow between all levels of staff, it’s the people that make it work, a workplace adaptation of the old “do unto others…” adage. After all, quality breeds more quality, meaning more people will be willing to return next time they need to see a doctor, or recommend your services to a friend or relative.


Please refer to other articles related to this topic.

Starting a Dermatology Practice: Interview with Dr. Sumul Gandhi, MD, MBA, MPH

Building a Referral Base for Your New Medical Practice

How to Choose the Right Staff for Your Medical Practice

From Dimensions to Design, Getting the Your Medical Office Space Right

1 Comment

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  1. I like that you talk about medical staff making up what they lack in experience with enthusiasm. Sometimes you hire people for reasons other than their experience. I think enthusiastic medical staff makes patients more comfortable.

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