By Alisha Rose Merlo

We’ve all heard the expression that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this certainly applies to the team who is charged with running your medical practice.


Are your employees sufficiently engaged?

They should be.

A Gallup Employee Engagement Survey shows that engaged employees are more productive and more likely to stay with your practice for the duration. Still, this type of engagement doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a carefully developed and executed action plan that begins as soon as you start to recruit a new employee.

Here’s how to build your dream team from scratch:

Step 1) Create a thorough job description.

This should identify the soft and hard skills required for a given position, as well as the behaviors necessary to drive success. Think about the job you aim to fill, and who best can fill it.

Step 2) Choose your words wisely.

Many job postings read something like this:

“Plastic surgery office seeking front desk receptionist. Must have the following skills and experience: answer phones, greet patients, process purchases, prepare charts, and filing.”

If you have ever posted an ad like this, you probably received hundreds of resumes, and much of your time is then spent weeding through unqualified candidates.

Instead, consider the natural personality and behavior traits that will best match the position, and highlight them in the classified ad. Try something along these lines:

“Professional medical practice seeks a team player that enjoys working in a fast-paced environment. Our ideal candidate must be able to manage many responsibilities, is quick to smile, and has a natural-selling style. If you can think on your toes and are motivated by helping others, then this may be the place for you.”

Step 3) Establish a structured, multi-tiered interview process.

Interviewer Beware!

Choose your questions carefully while conducting interviews, says PSP legal adviser Michael J. Sacopulos, JD. Certain questions could lead to a discrimination claim being filed against your practice. In particular, don’t ask questions related to a candidate’s race, religion, age, marital status, national origins, or sexual preference. Make it clear to your staff and prospective employees that your practice does not discriminate.

Everyone can look good on a first date. A Michigan State University study found that only 14% of hires made on the basis of one favorable interview were successful in the long term.

Instead, start the process with an initial phone screen. You can quickly tell a person’s level of professionalism when you speak with them on the phone. Prepare a set of questions to ask every candidate during this call. Those who pass the phone screen will advance to the first face-to-face interview. This should be conducted by the practice manager or administrator who will be supervising the position. A second interview can then be conducted by someone who demonstrates strong leadership within your team. All candidates should meet with the physician/owner at some point during the interview process.

Step 4) Arrange a tryout.

Before making a candidate a concrete job offer, many offices conduct a working interview or a trial day. This allows all the invested parties to get a real feel for the position. Some practices will pay prospective employees for their time if they agree to a trial. Establish a policy in advance.

Thoroughly vetting new employees can go a long way toward engagement, but it isn’t just sink or swim once you hire someone new. A proper orientation and mentor system can allow a new staff member to effectively acclimate to your practice and its culture.

Merlo-bio Alisha Rose Merlo is the founder and president of Pro MD Solutions LLC in Sacramento, Calif. She can be reached via [email protected].