What are you thankful for professionally?

By: Kimberly Buser, Partner
JHD Healthcare Partners

The other day I was stopped while walking in the Boston Public Garden by a news crew asking the typical fall question “What are you thankful for?” I answered with the cliché answer of “the opportunity to live in Boston, friends and family,” but the question has stuck with me in the form of “what am I thankful for professionally?”

As administrators of healthcare organizations, EBITDA, length of stay, staying ahead of the competition, dealing with patient complaints, keeping up-to-date on all the changes happening around us, and figuring out how to engage physicians fill our workdays … and sometimes our nights and weekends.

If we’re honest, engaging physicians is central to financial viability, ensuring positive outcomes, and having happy patients. While physicians were trained to care for patients, the business of healthcare is forcing them outside of their comfort zones – and training. All the changes and uncertainties in the industry are bogging them down, and, in some cases, discouraging them to the point where many feel they are in a “thankless” job. In fact, a 2016 Merritt Hawkins Survey for the Physicians Foundation, revealed that 49% of physicians always or often experience feelings of burnout, and 63% feel very or somewhat negative about the future of their profession.

The truth is that physicians are imperative to our livelihoods. As we enter this time of thanksgiving, let’s take some time to actually write each physician a thank you note – not send a generic email. Yes, this sounds archaic and how in the world can you write so many handwritten notes for all the physicians on your medical staff.  But, didn’t you smile and think fondly of the person who last mailed you a thank you note? Here are some tips to succeeding at thank you note writing:

  1. Set a deadline – Having the cards arrive by Thanksgiving would be ideal, but you may have to give yourself until Dec. 1, and first-class mail takes three days to arrive to its destination.
  2. Split up the work – get all the C-suite, directors and managers to take a few names of the physicians they know and work most closely with … or maybe the ones most difficult to work with. This way the message can be more personalized.
  3. Set a daily or weekly goal of how many notes you will write to meet the deadline.
  4. Have a signing day – think back to primary school days where you would have yearbook signing party at the end of the year. Bring lunch in, gather all the leadership team and start signing your name to all the notes.

Melody Beattie once said, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity … it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

A little thank you note is a big step forward to the vision of having physicians who are happier coming to work each day, more collaborative, and accepting of change.

I hope each of you has a Happy Thanksgiving!

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