Monday, April 12, 2010

Melissa Young, MD: The voice and face of my practice

Several times a day, I hear patients complain that they can’t stand the staff at other doctors’ offices:
“I like my doctor, but his staff is rude.”
“The people over there don’t know what they’re doing.”
Even some patients from my old practice tell me, “I’m so glad you left that office. I couldn’t stand so and so.”

I also hear complaints from my staff all the time that they called another doctor’s office for lab results or something and were treated very rudely:
“I don’t have time for that now.”
“[exasperated sigh] We sent that already.”
“Yeah, I’ll get to that when I have time.”
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I am incredibly pleased when patients tell me how much they like my administrative assistant and my medical assistant:
“She was so helpful.”
“She’s very sweet.”
“They are very efficient.”

When a patient calls, it’s their voice they hear first (ok, technically, they hear mine first because I’m on the phone message, but you know what I’m saying). The tone they set when they answer the phone, and the attitude they project is a reflection of the practice, and, in essence, of me.

They are also the first faces my patients see when they walk in the office. The way they are greeted and the way they are treated before they see me, sets the tone for the entire visit.

I believe it’s important for a practice to choose staff members that will portray the practice in its best light. It goes without saying that you want to hire someone competent, but you can educate people and teach them skills. It’s hard if not impossible to teach attitude and demeanor.


  1. I find that staff often mirrors the behavior of the doctor. If the doc is constantly late, not caring, gets upset when patients want to be seen or have another question, doesn't answer calls, etc. then the staff becomes rude, uncaring, etc.

  2. I have been a practice manager for over 20 years. I have seen good doctors lose business because of their staff. I started a business called due to this problem. Your receptionist is the one who has the ability to increase or decrease your patient flow. If the receptionist knows they are being watched they are usually representing you well, how are they when they are on their own?