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    4 tips for hiring the right employees for your practice

    Payroll and benefits make up about half the overhead of most practices. You can’t run a successful practice without a trained and intelligent staff. But finding the right staff is a continual treasure hunt for practices. Here is a process to follow to help you find top-notch candidates.

    1. Start with a wish list

    Build a wish list of the qualities that the perfect candidate would have. If you have a job description, start there. Without this ‘shopping list’ you might not recognize the best candidate.

    Ask yourself: Is this a job a good worker will want? Every job in a medical practice needs to include a reasonable mix of work.

    2. Decide on a skill set

    Decide what skills you are unable to teach a candidate. Those traits will require specific experience, and the good candidates will have it. Specific skills needed for your practice (scheduling, electronic health record entry, etc.) will be your responsibility to teach.

    In general, look for some successful experience in customer service-related jobs, experience with a variety of software applications (medical and commercial), and the ability to communicate clearly.

    For clinical positions, a certificate or training program is helpful. A full coding credential is probably overkill for a small single-specialty practice, but experience with coding and being able to read and understand the CPT and ICD books are important.

    3. Cast a wide net

    Let everyone know that you are looking, especially your own staff. List the job on Craig’s List, and any other local digital job board. Skip Monster.com. In our experience you spend hours kissing frogs on that site. Make your job sound interesting and different from other positions. Newspaper ads are so expensive that the shorter, more affordable ones are ineffective.

    Use your local chapter of MGMA and your county medical society. They often have job boards that you can use to post opportunities to broadcast to their membership. Contact trade schools and community colleges with medical assistant programs. Ask for a candidate with experience if you don’t have a good trainer in house. While you are at it, volunteer to participate in extern programs. It is usually free and you might find someone you really like on this trial basis.

    4. Phone screen first

    Talk to the best candidates quickly and on the phone. When you get resumes sort them by quality. Listen for communication skills and talents while discussing the job history. That is the most valid predictor of future behavior.

    If the phone interview goes well, bring the candidate to the office. Set up role-play challenge scenarios, including collection calls, appointment scheduling and reception tasks. You are looking for grace and thinking under pressure.

    Always check references and check them all. Make sure you have at least a confirmed history, if not the performance details. Perform a background check. 

    Don’t be discouraged if a candidate doesn’t work out. Just keep plugging away.


    Judy Bee is a practice management consultant with Practice Performance Group in La Jolla, California. Send your practice management questions to [email protected].


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