By Judy K. Brown, FASPR, Provider Employment Specialist, Hennepin County Medical Center
Once considered to be a steady and stable industry, healthcare has now been thrust into a sea of change. The advent of healthcare reform, tighter restrictions, economic and financial pressures and higher expectations are wreaking havoc. With all the intense pressure to survive and grow, many healthcare organizations are experiencing reorganizations, mergers, and major change in leadership. These changes present new challenges and demands for everyone, and especially from a recruitment perspective. Here are a few ways we can adapt and make the change work to our benefit.
“Treat everyone the way that you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.”
~ Kathleen D. Lee, MBA, FACHE, Senior Physician Recruiter, BayCare Medical Group
Change is constant. You’ve probably heard this time-worn reminder more than once. But when change actually impacts you, specifically, it can feel like a crisis. Change is often viewed as a threat, possibly causing the familiar status quo to be challenged or even eliminated. The stress that can be caused by this perceived threat can be paralyzing for some, upsetting workflow and processes. Many of us tend to prefer established routines. We want to feel secure, stable and familiar with our responsibilities and work environment. However, this is not the “norm” any longer and in order to survive and thrive, we will need to embrace change. Instead of fearing or resisting change, it may be more advantageous to accept it, understand it and prepare for what may come. Resisting change may lead to frustration and negative outcomes. Accepting and embracing change may lead to new and more positive opportunities.
However, it’s important to recognize that experiencing substantial changes can have an emotional impact. Some of us may experience a sense of sadness and loss over what we thought was good, and fear for what may come. In our profession, a leadership change may have a deeper impact if we have developed a strong relationship with a sense of mutual respect and trust. There can be much more lost than just another face in the clinic or hospital. In order to move on, it will probably be more helpful to accept the good, the bad and the ugly of the past. Acknowledge the feelings, but then prepare for the future and move on.
“Practice Servant Leadership: Lead by serving others first.”
~ Mr. Jamie Boutin, Manager Physician Recruitment, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospitals
“It is not the knowledge that we possess that makes us valuable; it is the willingness and desire to share that knowledge that makes us valuable.”
~ Donald E. Prince, Sr., CMSR, Physician Recruiter, Fisher-Titus Medical Center
Stay Positive and Constant
As mentioned previously, it’s helpful during times of change to recognize our feelings, whether positive or negative. However, once we have accepted those feelings and moved on, we need to remain positive and focused on the work at hand. Don’t make any dramatic changes to daily work and routines. Don’t assume that an organizational or leadership change will automatically mean that your responsibilities or processes will also require a make-over. Keep doing the work as you have been doing it until directed otherwise.
Many times, we may assume that an organizational or leadership change will automatically have a huge impact on our day to day work, but in fact, it may have no impact at all.
Observe, Listen and Learn
One of the best approaches to dealing with change is to observe, listen and learn. Most often, there will be communications from the c-suite about the expected changes, future goals and long-term strategies. The best new leaders do not begin by making broad, sweeping changes at the onset. Instead, they take a few months to learn the about the organization and the span of responsibility.
Observe how these new leaders interact with others, their communication styles, how they express their expectations, and how they react to recommendations. Observe them in times of difficulty. The more we observe, listen and learn, the better we can prepare for interaction and communication with new leadership.
“Great leadership starts with looking at the end goal. Once you know where you need to go, engage your team to help you find the best way to get there. You won’t get there on your own.”
~Carey Osborne, Director, Clinical Staffing at MEDNAX National Medical Group
Re-evaluate Your Work and Processes
Change provides the opportunity to review processes, make recommendations or review that wish list you have had in your pocket for some time. Be prepared to review your processes and justify your work. Now is the time when you can show the critical role physician/provider recruitment plays in the organization’s success. Have data to support your recommendations and decisions and be open to being challenged. Don’t expect this new leader to solve all your problems or to become your immediate champion. It may take some time and persuasion. Come to the table with realistic recommendations for change to the work and processes. Be able to know how to best clarify and communicate your goals and plans. Seek out counsel and feedback from trusted friends and colleagues on how you can continue to improve.
“My best leadership advice is to listen. Listen to those that you lead, listen to your leaders and peers, and most importantly listen to (and trust) yourself.”
~ Trevor Bethel, FASPR Senior Physician & Faculty Recruitment, Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center
Rise to the Challenge
How we respond to change can showcase personal adaptability and flexibility. It can set us apart as a rising leader, or indicate we are simply part of the establishment. Embrace the goodness of the change that is going on. If you are working with a new leader, learn how to develop the ideal working relationship with that individual, simply because it will help you grow as a professional. Even if you don’t like or respect the new leader, it’s important to understand what makes him or her “tick.” Rather than viewing a change as a problem, look at it as a promise for an exciting future. Rise to the challenge.
Ask your ASPR colleagues!
Favorite thoughts, quotes and words of wisdom regarding leadership and change have been sprinkled throughout the article and more pearls of wisdom are included below.
“If serving is beneath you, then leading is beyond you.”
~ Don Rainwater, AASPR, FAC-COR, Air Force Retired, National Healthcare Recruitment Consultant, Workforce Management Consulting Office, VA Central Office
“Lead by example not by managing.”
~ Kim T. Collins, CMSR, Physician Recruiter, Anne Arundel Medical Center
“The best “executive” (Leader) is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt (Submitted by David Andrick, CMSR, FMSD, FASPR, Director, Physician Recruitment & Relations/Sports Medicine Services,) Wilson Health
“Physician leadership needs to make recruitment a priority if there are openings in their areas; it is a partnership with their recruiter. Candidates pick up on the fact if interviewers are not prepared, interviews get postponed, or meetings get cancelled the day they are with you to interview.”
~ Karyn Hazel, In-house Physician Recruiter, Spectrum Health Medical Group
“A strong leader is intentional about listening to the perspectives and opinions of those that they lead.”
~ Tina J. Weeks, Director of Business Development and Physician Recruiting, Helen Keller Hospital
“As in real estate where location is paramount, the key word to physician leadership is Listen. Listen. Listen. Then act where you can, and give feedback on areas where you can’t affect change as quickly as they would like. Then repeat the process.”
~ Linda Remer MBA, DASPR, Manager, Physician Recruitment, Midland Memorial Hospital
“One of my favorite quotes is: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Constantly surround yourself with the best and you will be the best. Never stay stagnant, keep growing - personally and professionally!”
~ Christopher Mastrantuono, MBA, DASPR, Leader in Healthcare Administration and Physician Services, Mount Sinai Health System