Doctors, just like everyone else, get older. Along with our parents and older relatives a part of life becomes telling those we care about our wishes for end of life. Check out Conversation Starter Kit, free, . You or those you care about will be guided thought a number of questions important to planning your affairs. Also have found it helpful to review, Center for Practical Bioethics, free materials at on clarifying values, and desires to pass on.
When looking at retirement doctors can be pleased or disappointed as they look back. I see it all the time when handling practice transitions and succession planning for doctors because inevitably we talk about how the practice started and what happened over the years. In the book Triumphs and Experience by George Vaillant, the good news is that people over many years continue to develop. They are increasingly refined is the way I look at. This book tracks the Harvard Grant Study that tracked 200 undergraduate men looking at their physical and emotional health. As one reviewer, Martin Seligman stated, "If you are preparing for the last quarter of your life, this is a MUST read." And I agree. In addition to the book you can check out a recent column A Way To Get Past Regrets by Diane Cole WSJ where she interviews Dr. Vaillant. Here is one excerpt, WSJ: Which of the participants in the study tend to have regrets later in life? Dr. Vaillant (provides an answer) then WSJ asks How did that compare with those people who tend to be more content? Dr. Vaillant: The latter had learned not to cry about spilled milk. The had learned to savor the things that had gone right." Which to me is great advice for any retiring doctor!
Way to many practice owners who start looking for an associate jump the gun. What do I mean? In short they have not prepared. Here is a suggested preparation list to get
you thinking. First, have a clear statement of your philosophy of care. You can’t talk about what is important for you and your practice if you haven’t or worse can’t articulate your philosophy of care. Second, be prepared to discuss, to the degree you are comfortable, your practice performance, including new patient flow, type of procedures, demographics and need for an associate as it relates to each of those items. Third, lay out your vision for the practice and why you are looking for a compatible personality and character in a new associate to join with you. This format has worked wonders for us at Berning & Affiliates and will help you to build a successful relationship.
I’ve found that practice owners can be a picky lot, and perhaps one of the areas they are most picky about is choosing an associate. There is good reason, of course, to be cautious since the new associate will represent the owner and the practice to a wide range of people including current patients, new patients, staff, and community residents and businesses. Further, the associate is often a partner in the making, so it is a very important time to qualify the doctor. But perfect, sorry it does not exist, and some owners never seem to recognize it. So what can be done to come close to perfect? Perhaps the best approach I’ve seen work effectively is for the owner considering the associate / partner is to carefully determine the desired attributes the owner would like ahead of any interviewing process.
Taking time to think through and consider what aspects will give the best match
with the owner’s personality, staff make up, clinical skills desired and
practice demographics can be an excellent step toward finding a great match!
Way too often Doctor CEOs and I talk about the sometimes clue less behavior of younger professionals seeking associateship, partnership or practice purchase opportunities. Here is an example. Practice owner pays for the airfare for a candidate to visit the practice, pays for the hotel, pays for two days of meals and takes time away from family to meet and interview the doctor. Many, many days after the visit the prospect texts, “Thanks again for the weekend visit! By the way could you help me out and send me some materials we discussed?” WOW! Anyone heard of a personal call as a follow up, or an email, or a note saying thank you? What about asking for a favor in the first communication? Anyone heard of building a relationship before asking for a favor? Maybe not. But I’m telling you to wise up. Your great clinical skills or the good program you came out of does not mean much if you lack basic courtesy. Remember, there are a lot of other candidates in line for a position!Consider reading this The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success.
My experience is that Doctor CEOs who lay out their practice vision are half way to success. The other half is how they persuade their team the vision is attainable and that everyone is part of it. In our Smart Doctor CEO Interactive coaching newsletter for 2013 1st Quarter, I address how some people sabotage their changes for success and present a new book, Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions, by John C. Norcross. Here I would like to augment that book and our newsletter with another book that ties in nicely, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, by Noah Goldstein, Robert Cialdini, and Steve Martin. I believe you will find it a helpful perspective and it stresses in part that favorable results increase dramatically when we identify common ground with another person or group. Together the books are a great combination. I can confirm that in practices where Doctor CEOs communicate their vision for the practice clearly and persuasively success is at hand.
Recently I received an inquiry from a doctor in practice for many years that was looking for a practice transition approach that was “easy to implement.” The doctor related that over the years he had developed a primary practice location, a satellite location, owned the building of the primary location, but had no lease for the satellite location. More discussion only emphasized the range of activities that the doctor was involved in. In my view, the start of any assessment of a practice transition should be a thorough understanding by both the doctor and the advisors of the goals of the practice owner and developing options that might fit with the goals. In many larger and involved practice cases the undertaking is often complex and expensive, especially given the tax issues involved. The suggestion to all doctors thinking about launching their transition planning especially when they have an involved practice format is to start sooner than later!
Just returned from a most interesting trip visiting three top orthodontists in their separate practices in a couple of different states. Each doctor has a thriving practice and has provided care to their patients over decades of time. Each, in the course of our meetings, independently commented on the very rewarding time they are having now seeing second and even third generation patients. For these doctors, and many just like them, my observation is that the foundation of their practice and their lives is a caring approach that does not end. Today, I sometimes come across the younger doctor trying to sort out and settle their philosophy of care. Following the examples of doctors discussed here can provide a great direction with proven durability and significant satisfaction.
We often discuss the value of setting written objectives that tie to a Doctor CEO’s practice or personal life vision and timeline. No question the process of honing an objective, testing that it is realistic and allocating resources works. What is not emphasized enough is the level of investment needed by the Doctor CEO, the whole dental practice team and occasionally outside advisors. It can be enormous! We find that because it can be involved, some doctors shy away and never fully commit to allocating the time, energy and resources necessary to implement their objectives. The payoff, as a result, never comes. Yet, we find repeatedly as the years go by that for doctors that do lead their practices with a clear vision and reasonable and measurable objectives never regret the resources committed. For your practice consider the long term benefits of starting and cultivating a disciplined management process that offers high impact continuous benefits to your practice and you. If you would like to discuss applying the process to your practice consider our Tackle It Consultation.
What gets to you, the economy, your practice marketing (or lack of), your practice performance, politics at the national, state or local level (or all of them!) maybe the environment? Today it feels like you can take your pick and they all seem thorny and in some cases downright depressing! Maybe we need a more optimistic view. I have been through my share of recent practice planning meetings to know that some Doctor CEOs are finding particularly painful the slow overall economic recovery. Yet, there may be many reasons to see a future that is brighter. Once the economic recovery is on a firm footing the practices that have made it and are well regarded will be sought after. It should be a time of reaping the pent up demand from patients that have delayed care over the past 4-5 years. Subscribers of the Smart Doctor CEO Coaching Newsletter will have as a bonus this month a book review on the new book, Abundance, by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. As you can tell from the title it is a very up book! If you are interested in a gaining a different perspective you can order it from Randall’s Reading List in our Store.