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Tap Into Your Career Potential
by Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, Executive and Career Coach for Physicians
The first dimension is purpose, passion, and values. That is, what is that essence or quality about you, what are those unique gifts that you may have had since you were 3 or 4 years old? What is it you're into? What do you care about? What's the most exciting thing you do now? What really gets you jazzed? What's that pipe dream you've been thinking about? Almost everybody has one.
The second dimension is skills. Physicians have very deep skills, but they are very narrow in focus. So we help them recognize their own inventory of skills: What have you done, either in or outside your clinical practice, that shows you have skills that are transferable?
For example, a lot of physicians have done things with their church or nonprofit organizations [or] they've coached Little League. Maybe they've remodeled their house — that demonstrates they can do project management.
We also look at what kind of skills are going to be important to develop in order to be successful in another arena: What skills will be helpful if you want to go into a specific domain such as medical management or develop a consulting firm? Things like how to put together a business plan, how to engage a client.
Q: And the third dimension?
table? This helps
all the areas out there. There's
a specialty society for so many things and those are great resources and great
places to network. A lot of physicians are petrified of networking or they
just don't know how to do it.
— passion, skills,
— the sweet
Q: What sorts of different things can physicians do with their careers?
planning service to
working for a
have entered the
opinions and e-mail
A: One of the most challenging areas for physicians, and it sounds trite, is learning how to participate in a team of peers where you are contributing and not just sitting back and throwing out your opinion.
There's a healthy give-and-take that requires respectful communication. In the business world, physicians are going to meet a lot of smart people like them. The way people interact in the business world is by creating something from nothing — creating something from ideas. The way that's done is in a team environment and through communication. The sooner they can learn that, the more effective they'll be and the faster they'll advance.
Q: Talk about your own career change. How did you get to where you are today?
the next thing.
'What's the next challenge?' I knew I didn't want to be on the traditional medical-director-in-a-hospital track. I was on a couple of hospital committees and had participated in that, but I had a feeling I wanted to be in business.
teeth and learned
introduced me to
— so I
have ever left
— not one-on-one
patient care, but
of where they
or medical device
I work for might be interested in talking to you.' Even so, I'll always be a doctor. I was actually seeing patients part-time until last year. I still have my license and I have yet to give it up completely.
Q: What has been most enjoyable — and most difficult — in your move to the business world?
A: I am a very creative and strategic person so I was in heaven coming up with ideas, being part of a design team, giving talks, and supplying a lot of the ideas that went into becoming a product. The other part that was enjoyable was the autonomy and the flexibility. As a young mother, I found that much more amenable to a family life, even when I was traveling.
What I found difficult was learning to communicate respectfully. I don't think I had an attitude problem, but I had to learn a whole level of advanced communication that is different from patient interaction, where the patient is always kind of a subordinate. Being part of a team, everyone's battling for their ideas, and there's a way to do it that's respectful.
Q: What about those physicians who simply want to continue practicing medicine, but are finding it
less and less satisfying? What can they do to make their careers more fulfilling?
A: I think there are two parts to this. First, I suspect there are a lot of physicians who have not optimized their practice. I mean not only the collections and the billables, but many doctors fail to examine how the staff works as a team. Do the staff feel good about coming to work every day? How do I interact with my colleagues so they are sending me referrals? There's a lot of interpersonal development that physicians can do that will really enhance how it feels to go to work every day.
I was fortunate to work in two clinic environments where it was fun — the staff enjoyed each other; people got along. That makes a huge difference. Is everyone getting along? If not, fix that; no doctor should tolerate it. Most staff are very anxious to create a warm environment for patients and each other, and are very creative in doing it. I think there's a lot of untapped potential there. It's important to set expectations: 'This is how I want the clinic run.' The clinic will take on the tone of the physician.
Second, it's important for physicians to develop an area of interest outside the clinical practice. Lots of physicians say, 'I don't have time. I work from 6 in the morning to 7 at night.' But it's about choice and establishing personal boundaries. My deal is to help physicians live from the inside out, to live their core values and passions. Sometimes that means a tripling of their salary and sometimes it means they have an apple orchard somewhere.
physicians who believe
like them to
world is counting
This article originally appeared in the July 2003 issue of Physicians Practice.
Francine R. Gaillour, MD, Business Consultant and Executive Coach for Healthcare Leaders firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Gaillour offers numerous resources to assist physicians who want to develop their career and leadership potential. click here to learn more
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