Small Business
Transitioning Into a New Practice

Transitioning Into a New Practice

Be proactive for a smooth, seamless entrance.

When you join a new practice, your function may seem self-evident. You're coming onboard to see patients and share the caseload with other practitioners in the group. But do you really know what's expected of you? Every practice is different, and the fewer surprises you encounter, the greater your chances of finding a happy fit. Here are some strategies to help facilitate a smooth transition.

Take a test drive.

How many patients are you expected to see each day? What are the office routines? Will you have a chance to settle in and take time to get to know your patients, or must you hit the ground running? Will partners be sending patients your way, or must you build your caseload on your own? Ask for a meeting with all of your potential colleagues in the practice, and have them share their views on the role they hope you'll fill. If possible, spend some time shadowing others in the group before you officially come onboard. And don't forget to find out the names of different staffers you can turn to for various necessities.

Learn the numbers.

If you haven't had a detailed discussion of the partnership's finances, now's the time. Beyond your own paycheck, you need to learn everything you can about the health of the practice. What are the stresses, the debts, the cash flow situation? Especially if you're new to the field, it may feel disrespectful to ask senior members probing questions about how the practice is run. But it's not disrespectful; it's business. And the more you know upfront, the more you'll be able to shore up weaknesses and help the practice thrive down the road.

Cultivate staff relationships.

Good working relationships with office staff will go miles toward ensuring a pleasant work atmosphere, and will also encourage staffers to go the extra mile to provide the support you need. While friendliness and courtesy are key, staff members aren't looking for a new best friend. You'll get the best results by treating everyone as professionals. That means appreciating good work, never condescending and handling your own routine chores by yourself, without expecting staffers to take care of them.

Take it easy.

You want your new colleagues to know they made a good choice, so it's natural to want to impress them with your professional knowledge and managerial skills. But keep in mind that in the early stages, less is usually more. Allow time for your partners to get comfortable with you and for you to really get to know them. Jump into an office dispute or major practice decision and you may find your enthusiasm mistaken for pushiness, or that you've misinterpreted something that greater experience would have made clear.

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