Become An Expert At Managing Your Practice

Ok, maybe not the MOST enthralling topic this week.  We admit it.  We write to doctors, not corporate executives.  They’re doctors for a reason: they want to treat patients.  They didn’t go to school so they could be a manager–otherwise they probably would’ve gotten an MBA!  They are doctors because they want to see patients–not manage a business.

But what if we could give you one compelling reason that would absolutely persuade even the MOST management-averse doctors to try to learn about being an executive?

OK, here it is, get ready:

Because you have to.

That’s right–you have to.  Unfortunately every practice owner in America, so long as they’re going to continue to own and run a practice, has to know something about management.  If they don’t it’s an absolutely miserable experience.  In fact, the less you know the more miserable it is

The moment a person buys or starts a practice, he is no longer just a doctor.  Now he’s a business owner which means that he is, by default, an executive and a manager.  This has its own set of problems that are completely disrelated to being a doctor and require a totally different skill set.  And no matter how smart someone is, he won’t know what to do unless he’s been trained in management.  A person can try to run their practice on instinct, but often this flops.

Running a business can be counterintuitive at times.  Dealing with employees is different than dealing with patients.  A lot different.  Extremely intelligent people can fail at running their own business if they don’t learn the technology of management.  

What?

Yes.  There is a technology to managing.

Running a business isn’t done off of feel, off of opinion or gut instinct.  Running a business is done according to certain laws, which invariably work in all situations.  There are right ways to do things and wrong ways to do things.  If you learn the laws and procedures you will succeed.  If you don’t learn them, you…won’t.

Note:  As an aside, because it’s relevant here, one point bears addressing.  When talking about practice management, many practice owners say that they don’t want to bother with it and they’ll just hire someone else to take care of it for them.  That almost never works.  The reason is because it’s the doctor’s money, credit and name on the line.  No one will ever be as interested in the survival of the practice as the practice owner.  At the end of the day, it will always fall on the practice owner to ensure the practice is running well and solvent.  Delegating to an office manager is good, and should be done–as long as the owner is also an expert at management.  The owner has to have their eyes open and be overseeing the direction of the practice.  He might not handle the day-to-day operations, but he’s still the “CEO.”  Delegating all managing to someone else while ignoring it personally is like taking your hands off the steering wheel and closing your eyes while driving.  The only doctor that doesn’t have to know about management is the one who works for someone else.

Here are five tips you can apply right now to become an expert manager in your practice:

1.  Decide to become a good manager or executive.

Most practice owners identify themselves as a doctor.  They have no problem with that role and when someone asks them who or what they are, they are likely to answer that they’re a dentist, a veterinarian, an ophthalmologist–whatever.  They normally don’t say that they’re a business owner.  The first step to becoming an expert manager is deciding to fully take on that role in addition to your role as a doctor.  It can’t be something that you do because you have to.  No one ever got good at anything that he did unwillingly or grudgingly.  You have to decide that you ARE a manager.  It has to be an identity that you want to have, that isn’t just thrust on you because you have no one else do to it.

2.  Decide to become an expert.

You are an expert at treating patients.  You’re good at it and people pay you good money for it.  Decide to become an expert at practice management.  It takes a decision and a commitment, but it’s the only way to win.  Don’t decide to half do it.  Do it all the way.  If you’re going to run a practice for the next 10, 20 or 30 years, you might as well do it well.  Decide that you’re going to become a professional executive and an expert in your own right.

3.  Study

No one ever became good at anything without a tremendous amount of study and practice.  Even the “natural talents” in any field still practiced a ton.  If you’re going to become an expert executive, you’ll need to actually study how to be one.  Devote time, energy and treasure to learning about it.  It will pay you back in spades every year that you practice.

4.  Don’t listen to opinion.

Management ideas are thrown around like political slogans.  The vast majority have absolutely no workability.  Remember that.  Just because someone says it’s the flavor of the month doesn’t mean it will work.  And just because a successful business owner says he does _______, doesn’t mean it will work for YOU.  It might just be that with his personality or his staff, it happened to turn out OK.  There is no guarantee it will work the same way for anyone else.  Go in for natural laws, broad general principles and basic fundamental truths.  Ignore fads.  Disregard things that worked in only one or two instances.

As you learn about management, you will encounter so many opinions that it can get extremely confusing.  Learn to ignore opinions and mere “theories” or you’ll get lost.  Stick to basic workable fundamentals and everything gets simple.

5.  Learn to become an executive the same way you learned to become a doctor.

Sir Francis Bacon revolutionized science with empiricism and the scientific method.  This method of thinking holds true even today.  All of science and its allied fields like medicine are based on it.  Every class you ever took to become a doctor had at its root the basics of the scientific method.  Don’t throw it away when studying how to become an executive.  It’s truly your most valuable asset.  The only test of a management principle is: does it work?  If it works, keep it.  If it doesn’t work, get rid of it.

Too many people in the fields of management and business are willing to throw the scientific method out the window and work for years on completely false ideas.  You see it all over the news, in government and in professional journals.  The only valid way to manage a practice is the same way that you treat patients–using observably workable procedures based firmly on fundamentals which are based in fact, not opinion.

Conclusion

Becoming an expert manager is the way to economic freedom and professional success for any practice owner.  If you can embrace it you will see steady expansion for your practice and financial freedom for yourself and your family.

There is no one-shot silver bullet to successfully managing a business, but if you really learn how to do it, the “management end of things” stops being a chore and actually becomes fun in its own right.

 

Hanses Management provides training in the fundamental laws of result-based practice management.  If you want to learn more about management based on natural law, contact us below.  We also recommend an excellent book on the subject, “Breaking the Code: The Mysteries of Modern Management Unlocked.”

 

Have a question about your practice?  Try our free “Ask a Consultant” service.  Just send us your question in the form below.  We’ll email you back as soon as we can.

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