Austin, Texas-based plastic surgery practice manager Kristin Gunn had only been on the job for about a month when her new boss—Jennifer Walden, MD—took the all-female crew on a field trip to see a Willie Nelson show.
“It was a team-building exercise,” Gunn recalls, and this is the type of collaboration, camaraderie, and collegiality that she has tried to emulate and foster in her role as practice manager.
Gunn’s job, in a nutshell, is to make sure that Dr Walden does what Dr Walden does best—perform surgery. For this to happen, all other engines must be running smoothly and the staff must work in harmony.
“I want her in the operating room doing her thing,” Gunn says. “This means everyone on staff must be engaged and focused on the other tasks that help the practice run smoothly and efficiently.”
A growing practice, there are now about 15 on staff. When Gunn is hiring, “personality is a big thing, because we want any new person to fit right in,” she says. This means they must feel as at home in the office or operating room as they would at a Willie Nelson concert, for example.
Before joining Walden’s practice, Gunn was running a local medspa. “This is a lot different,” she says. “Running the practice of a board-certified plastic surgeon means I do a lot more than just order Botox Cosmetic. I have to schedule the anesthesiologist and make sure that our surgical suite is properly credentialed, among other things.”
Like most managers of busy practices, Gunn wears many hats. She’s a media coordinator who spends time arranging for Walden’s frequent media interviews. “She is on TV almost weekly but also gets requests from local and national media outlets, so I have to carve that time into her schedule, too.”
Gunn is also involved in marketing. The practice sends out a monthly newsletter that is ripe with content—not discounts. “We don’t do discounts. We sell the practice’s uniqueness instead,” she explains.
She often interfaces with patients during and after consultations, providing quotes and financing advice. Sure, Gunn does encounter a difficult patient from time to time, but she tends to throw out some Texas charm. “When you are sweet as pie and ask them to come in to discuss their concerns, their tune changes,” she says.
Gunn is a problem solver, Walden says. “She comes with the solution, not empty-handed with the problem.” What’s more, “she is a creative thinker—an artistic, visual person, which in my industry translates into an out-of-the-box thinker with innate Internet, web design, and internal marketing skills; a natural at growing the medspa side of my practice while I am busy operating,”
Denise Mann is the editor of Plastic Surgery Practice. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.