Starting as a GP partner: Working with the practice team

In the second part of his article, Dr Tillmann Jacobi looks at working with the practice team and professional development.

Spend time in the reception to see the practice's image in the community (iStock)
Spend time in the reception to see the practice's image in the community (iStock)

The first part of this article discussed the challenges faced by GPs starting work in a GP partnership, including the local setting, and dealing with clinical staff and patients, as well as other GP partners.

The information is best used as a template or a checklist that can be adapted and then revisited on a regular basis.

The practice team

  • Your main focus is to adapt to routines and build relationships and rapport with coworkers, to assimilate their ways of working. Blend in quickly, break the ice and reduce potential anxieties or apprehensions.
  • Introduce yourself to everybody at an early stage, possibly with an introductory email giving a basic outline about yourself.
  • Try learning names and a few personal facts about everybody first hand. Always take notes as appropriate, but not in a way that is intrusive to others.
  • Work out the dynamics through your own observation and asking or exploring, not by listening to gossip. Display your awareness of team spirit and show your appreciation and respect that everyone is doing their bit. Ensure that individual or team achievements are recognised, praised and possibly rewarded.
  • Never flirt, charm or intimidate.
  • Be cautious about the risk of trying to be the 'good guy' if you enter situations of old tensions within the organisation.
  • Spend time in reception, for example, to sign prescriptions (but do not get in the way), to see the image the practice displays to the community.
  • Be respectful of everybody, regardless of their position.
  • Ask questions and reflect on answers. Make sure you show your appreciation.
  • Periodically check the quality of your delivery of administration tasks (for example, style, speed of letter dictation) with the respective team members. Adjust anything you can improve to make everybody's job easier.
  • Show your enthusiasm and creativity, with an element of humour and a relaxed, constructive attitude.
  • Remember that you are a change for the organisation, which can be a challenge for some people. Reactions to you will rarely be truly personal.
  • Learn the subtle unspoken rules of the team's dynamics by discreet observation.
  • Don't be available all the time in an attempt to please. Work to a structure and have boundaries, so colleagues get to know your routines and needs.
  • Avoid cliques, discourage gossip, stay neutral and objective, and promote organisational values, goals and ethos.
  • Not everybody is equally welcoming, but this does not mean personal likes or dislikes.
  • Don't assume that patients and colleagues will atomatically respect you. You need to earn their respect.
  • Don't overdo things, because this may be perceived as a threat and put pressure on others.
  • Be friendly and polite, but do not reveal too much about yourself - this is your workplace, not your family or circle of friends.

Yourself

  • Stay balanced in yourself and don't try to pretend to be a different personality from the one you really are.
  • Reflect consciously on yourself - your appearance, clothing, body language, speech (tone, loudness, speed, clarity), hygiene, habits.
  • Prepare mentally how you want to be in your new role (attitude, image, communication skills). Be kind and positive to yourself while you are adapting.
  • Don't try to show off - you did a successful interview.
  • Be early, stay late, be punctual, show you are organised with daily tasks and your time. Try to remain focused.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver with the work you take on.
  • Being practical is more valuable than being perfect.
  • Don't compare your previous job with this one, positively or negatively - both can go wrong.
  • Mentally (not vocally) challenge everything, including yourself. Be mindful of assumptions or premature judgments.
  • Do what you say you will - if you can't, make that known early enough not to cause problems.
  • Be aware of your life situation, relationships and strengths, weaknesses or challenges. Are you single, do you have a young family, are you new to the area and at risk of social isolation?
  • Book your first holidays early (aim for one week off within the first couple of months of joining), understand possible bottlenecks (school holidays, Christmas).

Other considerations

  • Find yourself a mentor/buddy; provide feedback about your induction experiences.
  • Consider what happens after your trial period is over.
  • Plan your finances early (loan, tax code, pension). Expect considerable variations in tax calculation payments in your first one or two years as a partner. Consider taking independent professional financial advice.
  • Set your own priorities and to-do lists and share them as needed with your partners.
  • Monitor how you are spending your time at the practice.
  • Don't use the practice computer for personal business and avoid social media or downloads at work. Adhere to practice IT/data protection protocols (for example, memory sticks) and netiquette advice for email.
  • Where you can, use face-to-face communication with colleagues rather than email.
  • Regard your new partnership as a long-term relationship and work on it steadily, not radically.

Conclusion

Your goal is to work effectively with other people in the practice and possibly to lead some of them at some point in the future.

Your behaviour from the day you start as a partner will ultimately determine how successful you are at your workplace.

The ability to set and achieve personal goals is a key skill for career development at any level, and particularly useful in your first few weeks and months in a new job.

One goal could be to extend this list and review it frequently.

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