Don't needle the new doctor

Don't needle the new doctor

Feeling prickly about the new associate? You play a bigger part in her success than you may realize. Here's a look at what you can do to make her feel welcome.
Nov 01, 2006

You might have mixed feelings when the practice owner hires a new doctor. Yes, this new person may change your nice, comfortable world. And that could be a great thing. Remember, your owner has the practice's best interests at heart. So she'll really try to hire the best person for the position.

Now it's time to start thinking about how you'll welcome a new doctor. The only question is how to make the new situation work for everyone. What are you going to do to support the success of this new doctor?

Open up to change

First of all, look for the new associate's strengths. When you uncover her talents and give her the spotlight, others can see her contributions. For example, perhaps she's an excellent listener, so clients quickly feel comfortable with her and confide more details about the pet's condition or circumstances. Or maybe she has a knack for analyzing systems to see how you could work more efficiently. There will be something great if you look for it.

Ideally, new doctors and team members will spend the first 90 days on the job observing, learning practice systems, and fitting into the established groove. With that base, they're particularly well positioned to suggest changes.

Of course, it's hard to stay quiet for long if you really think you see a better way. And the new doctor is probably anxious to contribute to your team. So when she makes suggestions, listen and stay open-minded. This new team member comes with a valuable outside perspective. You may find some of the ideas make sense if you give them a chance.

For example, the new associate may notice the cracked sidewalk or the dead plants outside the building. Or maybe she sees that the practice's cat, Mitzi, often stirs waiting dogs into a frenzy. In her first 90 days at the practice, she's looking at the place with a fresh eye. After she's been around for a while, she'll step over the cracks and see past the badgering cat. So take advantage of her insights while she still has an outsider's perspective.

You may have a vision of the perfect veterinarian based on your experience—perhaps a kindly James Herriot type. But you just can't judge your new associate because she's different. Every person's different.

The new associate needs to mesh philosophically with the other doctors in the practice, but you can't expect her to work in exactly the same way. While it can be a challenge, it's normal that you'll need to adjust your approach to accommodate different behavior styles.

Teach them the ropes

No matter how long you've been with the practice, you've been there longer than a new doctor. So welcome her by helping her learn your systems, fit in, and feel comfortable.

If you're welcoming an experienced doctor, you'll help most by demonstrating your systems and communicating your team's philosophy. It helps to form your statements as questions. For example, you might say, "Can I show you the way we've done it?" If you're open to change, you might even say, "I've never seen it done that way. Can you show me?" or "Do you see ways we can do it better?"