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New physician orientation: “You know the ship; they don’t.” – Summer 2014
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By Allison McCarthy, MBA, Principal, Barlow/McCarthy

“Remember, you know the ship; they don’t.” That line from the movie Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, jumped out at me. For those who haven’t seen it, the film recounts the harrowing story of the Maersk Alabama, the cargo ship that was hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. While the pirates (newcomers to the ship who arrived by motorboat) can hardly be compared to new physicians coming onboard, the quote emphasizes an important point: The advantage goes to those who know the ship.

Too often, new physicians tell me they feel like they’re at a “disadvantage.” That’s because they don’t know the “ship.” While many have attended new employee orientations, most new physicians say they need more specific and relevant information to get up to speed. Unfortunately, they (like those pirates) don’t know the ropes well enough to take charge.

The best way to ensure your new physicians get the information they need — when they need it — is to make it available in more manageable chunks.

Clearly, new physicians need more than a general orientation or a hospital tour to perform well. And while it’s out there, they don’t have time to read the ship’s entire manual. The best way to ensure your new physicians get the information they need — when they need it — is to make it available in more manageable chunks.

It makes sense, then, to look at new ways of presenting existing information. For example, consider developing:

  • A series of intranet YouTube-style videos that physicians can access before they start or when they encounter a challenge.
  • A set of visually rich infographics that provide “quick hits” of information.
  • Small group sessions that introduce information in the right context and build collegial peer relationships.

Now is the time when physician onboarding is at its peak. As newcomers clamor aboard, “Remember, you know the ship; they don’t.” To set them up for success, share with them everything they need to learn the ropes. By better supporting your new recruits, you can more quickly build a trusted crew.

© 2016 Association of Staff Physician Recruiters. All rights reserved.
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