The Position Paper 8/25/17

Welcome to The Position Paper! The Position Paper is my series featuring my quick take on a particular topic to help you manage your position. I will often feature one outside article as well that will allow you to dig in deeper if you desire. Read this while you drink your coffee in the morning and start your day off right!

Today’s Position: Professional Position

Featured Article: How Does Clutter Affect Employee Productivity shared by Productive Physician

My Take

In today’s Position Paper, Productive Physician shares an article outlining the many influences clutter has in our workspace. I think we have all walked into a physician work room or office with papers scattered everywhere. If you’re like me, it gives you a mini panic attack!

The article mentions some interesting statistics that are especially relevant for physicians. One cited study states the average employee spends up to 4.3 hours per week looking for papers. Physicians, I shouldn’t need to remind you of the administrative drain already placed on your day. If you’re like me, then you routinely traipse around the office looking for those home health orders or lab results.

There are several common sense tips mentioned including keeping an organized filing system and keeping workplaces clean. Personally, I speak with my physicians a lot about keeping our workspaces organized. Though this article may talk about the real economic cost, there is also the clinical cost to our patients we have to consider. Losing lab results or patient messages has real consequences for our patients.

An area the article does not delve into, which I think is especially relevant for doctors, is electronic clutter. Many electronic medical record (EMR) companies would have you believe that you can fire up your computer and only open your EMR each day. That is simply not true.

How many times a day do you realize that you have numerous things open on your computer including your EMR, email, reference materials, internet, and the list goes on? All of these extra “things” that stay open distract you from your primary job, patient care.

You don’t need to see what the next email is the second it comes in. You need to take care of the patient in front of you and check the email later. Decluttering your electronic workspace is key to accomplishing this.

Now go and clutter no more!


Do you like The Position Paper format? Is this someone I should keep doing or trash it? Leave me a comment and let me know!

The Position Paper 8/23/17

Welcome to The Position Paper! The Position Paper is my series featuring my quick take on a particular topic to help you manage your position. I will often feature one outside article as well that will allow you to dig in deeper if you desire. Read this while you drink your coffee in the morning and start your day off right!

Today’s Position: Financial Position

Featured Article: The Golden Handcuffs For Doctors-Loan Forgiveness by InvestingDoc

My Take

In today’s Position Paper, InvestingDoc talks about loan forgiveness and the many factors you must consider if you are going to accept an employment contract with loan forgiveness. First, loan forgiveness comes in many flavors. Here are just a few examples:

I have been offered loan forgiveness via employment contract, and InvestingDoc correctly points out that these are often structured as loans. Either the full balance will be due if you don’t stay for the length of the service agreement, or a portion of it will be due depending on how long you stay. There is often interest attached to the balance you must repay.

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I recommend actively negotiating that the balance be repaid if needed based on the portion of the service agreement you complete, avoiding interest altogether, or negotiating the lowest interest rate possible on the loan if interest must be included.

InvestingDoc also discusses PSLF, which can be great if you work for a federal agency or 501c(3) non-profit. He correctly states that you need to be prepared to fulfill the full 10 year commitment if you want the tax-free loan forgiveness at the end.

He also discussed the recent paranoia surrounding ending PSLF for physicians. Though it is definitely a possibility that physician access to the program could be limited, I highly doubt the government will end the program for physicians already out of training.

The government’s modus operandi for cost reduction is to limit anyone new from entering a program, not cutting off people already in it. As someone with federal employee experience, I can tell you this is always what happens. Not only is it the most fair thing to do, but it is also the most politically popular thing to do.

Remember docs, if you want that PSLF to stay, vote early and vote often!

Have a great day!


Do you like The Position Paper format? Is this someone I should keep doing or trash it? Leave me a comment and let me know!


The Mission is the Answer

Its not often that a single phrase can be used to answer almost any question in any scenario. Today, however, we are in luck! For my inaugural post on the blog, I am going to talk about the most important thing in any organization, the mission.

This is Not a Mission

We should start about by discussing what a mission is not. A mission is not an overly generic phrase like “to make money” or “to help patients.” Any healthcare organization is going to try to help patients and will likely try to make money in some way.

An organization’s mission also should not be to simply to do whatever another entity tells it to do. I have seen this particular mistake made in numerous hospital owned physician networks. Phrases like “we just exist to generate referrals” run rampant in these places, and these types of phrases are toxic to culture.

This is a Mission

A mission should inspire employees. It should speak to a noble cause. It should be specific enough to define structure and function while simultaneously being broad enough to encompass ideals and principles, not just rote functions like “make money” or “help people.”

In healthy organizations, the mission statement is the driving force behind every action. Anyone unfamiliar with the mission is woefully unequipped to have any meaningful conversation about the work being conducted.

Inspired by a Mission

Physicians Don’t Know the Mission

I have met many physicians who have not put in the necessary time thinking about the mission of their organization, and it reliably leads to frustration and burn out.

It is impossible to find passion or joy while working towards a mission that you don’t know about or don’t care about.

The process of acclimating to the mission should begin before a physician even interviews with a company.

You should know the mission statement before you walk into an interview, and your opening question should be for the interviewer to explain the mission statement and how it informs operations. If the interviewer cannot answer that question, then that is a serious red flag.

If you are already part of a hospital system or network, then you should be incorporating the mission into everyday decisions. Let me give you a few basic examples.

Putting the Mission to Work

The Mayo Clinic has a lengthy mission statement, but the first part reads “To inspire hope…” Do you think that an organization aiming to “inspire hope” is going to have an extensive research component to their operations? Mayo certainly appears to think so.

Let’s get even more into the weeds. The last part of Mayo’s mission statement reads “Mayo Clinic will provide an unparalleled experience as the most trusted partner for health care.” Now, I can see all of the eye rolls happening here. The customer service surveys are coming! It’s true. If you put patient experience in your mission statement, then it will probably be extensively measured and emphasized on a day to day basis.

There are ways for you, the physician, to use this mission statement when you are interacting with administrators. Perhaps you work for Mayo and they are considering opening a new urgent care down the street. You’re not excited about this because that means your patients are going to be receiving healthcare from someone else, and thus, you are losing out on potential revenue.

Doctor Thinking About Applying Mission

By knowing the mission, you can seek to have a substantive discussion with the decision makers in the process. You can make the case that your patients should be seeing you for Mayo to remain the “most trusted partner” for patients since you are already their trusted physician, not some random person in an urgent care they have never met before.

If they respond with a comment about how you don’t have enough access in your schedule and access affects trust, then point out any number of options that could open up your access. Maybe an additional medical assistant or even a scribe. Point out how these options are cheaper than an entirely new urgent care clinic and better help the organization achieve its mission.

Remember the Answer

Any physician that follows this model can actually have a seat at the table where decisions are made that affect every day clinical practice. Better yet, physicians that speak the language of the mission are viewed as people that truly “get it,” not just employees trying to protect their own interests. All of this happened because you remembered the BossMD mantra…the mission is the answer.

What do you think? Are you excited about your mission at your workplace? Do you even know what it is? Does the mission affect your every day actions? Let me know in the comments below. To hear about my mission with this blog, visit the About Me section.