There is a lot at stake in the first 90 days of any new physician job. Not only are you taking on a new professional opportunity, but you’re also likely navigating a relocation. Uprooting your family to a new community can add a layer of stress to what otherwise is an exciting time in your physician career.
When your first day arrives, you’ll be introduced to a new workplace culture, a roster of patients, your leadership team, fellow physicians and providers, and more. To set yourself up for success in this fresh chapter of your personal and professional life, check out these seven tips every physician should put into practice in the first 90 days of a new role.
1. Maintain a Focus on Learning and Growth
Yes, you spent many years in medical school studying and working impossibly long hours throughout your residency, but you still have a great deal to learn. Approach this opportunity with the intention of absorbing as much information as possible by nurturing a growth mindset. Not only will you improve your physician skills, but you’re also more likely to experience increased motivation and a higher likelihood of enjoying your new job.
2. Develop Strategies to Help Manage Your Workload and Stave Off Feelings of Physician Burnout
Like any new job, you will be very busy in the first 90 days as you navigate everything from learning protocols and responsibilities to remembering your colleagues’ names. During this time, nothing can be more detrimental to your success and efficiency than being disorganized.
Sure, chaos at times is normal and expected, but how you handle that chaos will be what sets you apart. From day one, find ways to stay organized and efficiently manage your time. This process looks different for everyone, but a great place to start when it comes to managing your workload is to write out goals and to-do’s for yourself, categorizing them as either short-, immediate-, or long-term. By doing this, you’ll have a tangible list to tackle that you’re able to cross off as you go.
Setting goals also helps you to own your schedule, which is critical to minimizing the risk of burnout. When physicians are asked what is contributing to their chaotic schedules, many cite the amount of clerical work and documentation that they are required to perform. If you find that your day just gets away from you, document your activities for a few days. Once you have determined where the time drag is coming from, you can work on a resolution. Your career as a physician means that you are a natural problem solver, and your time is an issue to be solved, not ignored.
3. Earn the Trust of Your Patients
Don’t underestimate the power and benefit of earning the trust and respect of your patients. A key element of success in your first 90 days is laying down the groundwork to foster a healthy, beneficial rapport with the community you care for. As a physician, people are coming to you in some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. That’s why you must ensure they have a healthcare provider who will advocate for them, help reduce their anxiety, and empower them to make the best decisions regarding their health.
In doing this, you’ll reap the benefits of building an excellent reputation, earning top patient satisfaction scores, increasing patient retention, and having the ability to provide them with the best possible care.
Here are a few tips for building trust from the beginning, according to Pharmaceutical Journal’s Maria Allinson and Betty Char:
- Demonstrate active listening without interruption to ensure patients feel their concerns are heard and considered.
- Practice using effective communication skills – both verbal and non-verbal – so your patients feel respected and empathized with when receiving information that may be difficult to hear.
- Identify areas where you may need additional training, and don’t be afraid to seek out guidance or advice when you don’t know an answer.
- Act with honesty and integrity, always making decisions with the patient’s best interest in mind.
4. Build Strong Relationships With Your Colleagues
In a high-stress professional environment, the ability to trust the people you work with and having them reciprocate that trust is a vital component of succeeding in your new role. When there is mutual understanding and respect among a team, you can expect higher rates of engagement, an alignment of goals, and an increase in motivation. So, from the beginning, it is in your best interest to build a strong foundation and put forth the effort to get to know each of your new team members.
Viewing your new role as one contributing part of a greater goal helps to create a more collaborative environment where everyone feels as though their hard work matters. You must respect the idea that every team member is essential and that you can’t be successful without their collective contributions.
It is just as important to also get to know your fellow physicians and work on building those relationships, as well. You will find that you need a strong support system to get you acclimated in your first 90 days, and your physician colleagues play an essential role in that. Having others who understand what you are going through and can be relied upon is a key ingredient to your success and fulfillment as a physician.
5. Make the Most of Your Physician Orientation
According to a recent survey, one in three physicians receive no formal orientation upon joining their employer – a huge issue that unnecessarily leaves many struggling to get acclimated in the first few months of their employment, which can lead to early physician turnover. A formal orientation helps to set expectations, explain policies and procedures, and assists physicians in assimilating socially with their staff.
If your new organization offers a formal orientation, you must take advantage of every aspect of it by writing detailed notes, asking thoughtful questions, and understanding the goals you need to meet to be successful.
However, if you find yourself as the one in three with little direction at the beginning, download your own onboarding checklist and communicate with your superiors to ensure everything from credentialing to setting up patient communications is handled properly. You’ll be glad you took matters into your own hands.
6. Practice Self-care
The first 90 days of any new physician job are bound to be challenging, stressful, and overwhelming. It is of the utmost importance to practice self-care and tend to your mental health, so you can be at the top of your game to avoid burnout and create a healthy level of work/life balance.
Practicing self-care looks different for everyone, so it’s important to find ways that help you de-stress and recuperate each day. When you have downtime, seek out activities that allow your mind to focus on things other than work, such as taking an evening walk with your family, reading a book before bed instead of scrolling on your phone, or doing a guided meditation.
Another important aspect of practicing self-care is getting an ample amount of sleep each night. After enduring long hours on your feet from school and residency, you may have to re-learn how to sleep, since you’ve likely become accustomed to not getting much rest on a day-to-day basis. Try creating and sticking to a routine that ensures at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Remember: the better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of your patients.
7. Seek Out a Mentor or Professional Coach
One of the most important things you can do in the first 90 days of your new role is finding a mentor or professional coach. Whether that is someone you formed a relationship with during your training or an experienced colleague at your new workplace, a trusted advisor can be invaluable to new physicians.
A professional coach or mentor has a leg up on things you may not know, as well as things you don’t know, you don’t know.
Having someone who understands what you are experiencing can help you overcome any anxiety you may be feeling in the beginning. A mentor can also help you develop the habits and systems you will need for long-term success. Plus, they can also be a sounding board during difficult times.
You have done an incredible amount of work to get where you are today, but it is just the beginning. The first 90 days in your new position can be used to develop the foundation that assures a long and prosperous career. Don’t underestimate the value of cultivating successful habits – without them, bad habits tend to take their place.
If you’re ready to pursue a new physician job opportunity, reach out to the physician recruitment professionals at Jackson Physician Search.