Doctors and hospital leadership must try to get along, therefore it’s imperative for candidates to understand the work environment before signing the dotted line.
The relationship between physicians and hospital administrators is often uneasy, especially in today’s health care environment. Increased regulations, bureaucracy and a swing to employment (versus independent practice) mean administrators often bear the brunt of doctors’ frustrations.
The truth, in all reality, is slightly more complicated than that — because so many of the directives that administrators implement are coming from beyond the walls of the health care organization. That includes the federal government and insurance companies.
Need we say more?
It’s crucially important that administrators and physicians try to get along. On that note, it’s imperative for doctors to understand the nature of the administration they will be working with before they sign on the dotted line.
Here are three things physicians should do:
- During the interview process, a must-ask question for any physician you meet should be: “How is your relationship with the administration?” Doctors likely will be brutally honest when asked by a colleague. If you are getting consistent negative feedback and physicians seem jaded by this, it’s a monumental red flag.
- Gauge the attitude of the administrator(s) you meet. You are intelligent and well versed in the ways of the world to have come so far. When you have that meeting with the high-level administrator, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Watch carefully for their general attitude, how they talk about doctors, and their overall vision and goals.
- Read the organization’s website and note how many top-level administrators are current or former clinicians. Whether it’s a doctor, nurse or any other medical professional, the best health care institutions usually have more former clinicians than business-trained folks in top positions.
If you fail to screen for this vital component of your future job, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Working with a good administration frequently makes all the difference between a satisfactory and unbearable work environment. Be savvy and do some detective work for your interview day.
Suneel Dhand, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and is based in Massachusetts. He is co-founder of DocsDox, an online service that connects physicians with moonlighting and per diem opportunities.