5 Critical Areas Of Staff Training We've Learned From 17 Years Building Clinics

If you're not continuously training your staff and yourself, you're losing patients, profits, and devaluaing your business.

A while back we sent a survey to 472 physicians asking about efficiency and productivity in their clinic or practice. You may be able to fit your own clinic into these responses:

  • Over 9/10 of physicians said that their clinic operated at less than 80% efficiency, and 4 out of 10 said that their clinic efficiency was below 60%!
  • Physicians reported this "productivity gap" costs their clinic between $5k and $40k in lost revenue every month.
  • When I asked them what doesn't work, the most common responses: "lack of systems" (44%), "wasted time and effort" (50%), and "micro-management" (40%).


The most common reason that physicians give for not doing anything? They don't know what to do...

And, if you are doing anything it's usually something like "Hey everyone... <insert-patient-name-here> told me that she didn't know that we're now offering _____ and that she had to wait 40 minutes today. From now on everyone should tell every patient about ______ and don't keep patients waiting without asking me."

I may have not got it exactly but every clinic member recognizes this type of direction.

You've also seen the results; piss-poor execution, patients slipping through the gaps, poor morale and feckless leadership... and worst of all; shooting your own business in the foot.

There's a better way, but it's not as simple as spouting a 'directive'. It involves some effort.

Where should you begin? 

I'd suggest that you begin with the Ultimate Clinic Operations Blueprint, our course on implementing systems in your clinic, but here are some general rules to get you started. (Also, watch the video all the way through at the top of the post for a better understanding of this.)

The 5 critical areas of staff training:

  1. Patient interactions
  2. Sales
  3. Safety and compliance
  4. Accountability
  5. Decision-making

A blog post is too thin a medium to detail everything needed in these areas (which is why we built the operations course), but here's a little preliminary guidance.

Employer Rule No. 1: Give employees ownership of real deliverables. In a clinic this often needs some preliminary work to implement measurements. I'm guessing that you don't know your average wait times or how many word-of-mouth patient referrals you're receiving each month.

 Depending on the kind of manager you are, you’ll either shy away from this because: a) you can do it better, or b) you don’t want to overload your direct reports. Either is a mistake. In my experience, most complaints I’ve had with any of my past employers have related to having too little to do, rather than insufficient salary/title/etc. Give your employees meaningful work, and they will rise to the challenge.

Insist on personal accountability. Yes, it’s scary to have people counting on you. It’s much easier to coast along behind the scenes. But admit it: it’s not very satisfying. Sloth never is. It’s much better to be king of an infinitesimal pond than a nobody in a massive ocean. Go for the responsibility, not the title. (I’ve made this mistake on several occasions, and each time I’ve regretted it.)

Employer Rule No. 2: Less is more. You really don’t need 10 people for two jobs. You need one. I’ve become a big believer in slow, organic growth in organizations. It’s much better to hire one person and stretch them thin than it is to hire 10 people and have them struggling to find sufficient work to keep them occupied.

 More is less. You don’t need more. You just need to work with what you have. The less you have, the more resourceful you’ll become — this makes us think like a real customer, who has to stretch a budget. Speaking of which….

Employer Rule No. 3: Every employee should be revenue-additive. This is the most important of them all. Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, once told me that he thinks business development is something every employee should do, all of the time. I didn’t believe him then, but I do now. Every employee should understand how she contributes to the company’s top and bottom lines, and should be held accountable for how she measures up. Everyone should be selling, developing product, marketing it, etc. No exceptions.

Employee Corollary No. 3: If you’re not making money for your employer, you’re a waste of money. If you don’t understand how you fit into the Circle of Life for your employer, find out. Or figure it out. But don’t just collect a paycheck. You owe it to your employer and to yourself to help defray the cost of your paycheck, as well as that of others’. The more revenue-driven we become, the more effective and the better our chances of improved future employment.

There is a better way that can pull you out of the micro-managing, hair-on-fire, unproductive daily grind and put you in a position where you're working ON your business, not IN your business. Take a look at the Ultimate Clinic Operations Blueprint.

As with any business, staff and personnel may have to undergo training to further enhance their skills and to give them an opportunity to learn new ones in the process. Medical practices should also partake in training, as it also helps grow your medical spa.

Customer Service

One of the best training you can provide to your staff is customer service. In many reviews given by patients, it seems that patients notice the service provided by the staff particularly rude behavior. Customer service training is also vital as this is one of the first things patients write about in reviews. 

Learn how to use patient reviews to grow your profitability.

Sometimes the case is untrue, but still, it would be best to train your staff with telephoning, emailing, dealing with patients as well. Your non-medical staff, especially front desk and reception personnel are your first line of defense, and the way they transact with your patients is a reflection or representation of your medical spa. You could be losing patients if your staff is untrained, so give them better training in that area.


Every procedure in your clinic needs to be standardized. Patients compare every interaction and if there's an identifiable difference between treatment sessions or interactions then patients will tag one as "worse" than the other and make the patient feel that you're less reliable. The result is greater patient churn, less income, more resistance to buying and less revenue.

Marketing and Reputation Management

Marketing is not just going on social media and promoting your medical spa. There are several aspects of marketing you must remember for healthcare. There have been instances where medical staff and providers forget to abide by HIPAA regulations, and that could put your medical spa at risk. In that light, you will need to learn how to strategize marketing around HIPAA or Health Information Regulations.

Social media is your best bet in marketing your medical spa especially it gives you exposure. You could invest in SEO for your medical spa, as part of your marketing strategy as well. Reputation management could be considered a branch of marketing as it deals with your reputation online and social media as well. Make sure that you have the right software to manage your reputation.

Operations and Management

This is mostly applicable for medical owners and physician owners of the medical spa. Managing your team should be a priority, by delegating tasks, setting meetings, overseeing without micromanaging, aside from seeing patients. It could become taxing, but it is doable with training. You will need to enhance your skills in operating your medical spa or aesthetic practice smoothly.

Not only would training make them more engaged but your staff can be more productive in work. You can motivate your employees with training, and it will most certainly help them become more engaged in your medical spa.

You can find some of our training courses on our website.

Four Ways To Motivate Your Staff

One of the best ways to prevent turnover and reduce the incidence of angry employees is through constant motivation.

While it's easy to say, "Go team!" everyday, it's not exactly motivational if you deadpan. Like any other business, staff is subject to prolonged work hours or monotonous activities which could be daunting to them. Staff motivation takes time like with trust and respect, which are both built. Here are four ways you can motivate your staff in your practice or clinic.

Create an encouraging and positive environment. This is important, because no staff would like to stay in a toxic environment and an overly-demanding and no-good boss. Constant encouragement and a good attitude will put your staff in high spirits. Whenever someone accomplishes a task, thank them and compliment them. Whenever someone makes a mistake, remind them it happens, offer any help if necessary, and still thank them for their work.

Treat them. To what? You ask. Staff dinner is a good example. Monthly bonuses are another option as well. So long as you set boundaries and it follows ethics and guidelines. Treating them occasionally would show how you appreciate their efforts and repaying them for their hard work.

Provide training. As a physician, it may be difficult to manage staff with all the procedures and appointments you are scheduled to perform and do. Thus, it is necessary to delegate procedures or therapies to your physician assistant, nurse practitioners, or aestheticians. Your employees would be thrilled if you provide them training for new devices or for management. This allows them to learn and expand their knowledge.

Remember to communicate. With everything, effective communication is key. In this situation, you can talk about any concerns within the team and resolving any issues that could hinder work. With this method, you are promoting transparency. You could schedule meetings on your free time with your staff, to talk about everything in the practice. Make certain that you regularly discuss with your staff.

There you have it! Motivating staff could boost employee morale. Motivation doesn't just happen overnight, it is a process, which could translate into a positive workplace.

The Key to a Thriving Clinic Workplace

Help your organization flourish by building a strong foundation for success in the workplace. The first step? Conflict management. 

Differing perspectives, ideals, and aspirations are potential triggers for conflict in any workplace. It's important to be aware of this inevitability and to know how to tackle the problem. Conflict resolution is one of the keys to running a successful business organization.

Unresolved conflicts can directly impact your business by destroying the collaborative environment and creating hostility among employees. It might even lead to resignations in extreme cases.

But conflict resolution isn't always easy and must be approached carefully. There are several stages in a conflict and timing is crucial in achieving a resolution.

Cooperation is more likely to be achieved in the intial stages of conflict, so an earlier-- but unforced-- intervention tends to be most effective.

If left unresolved, conflict will, of course, negatively impact the workplace. Additionally, if there is too much pressure for the conflict to be resolved immediately, problems may not be carefully addressed and similar disagreements will arise again. 

Here are some tips for managing conflicts in the workplace:

Be proactive

According to Forbes.com, defining an acceptable behavior is a positive step in avoiding conflict. Effective communication is achieved when job descriptions are clearly defined and everyone is informed about what is expected of them. It is important to relay the message of what can and can't be tolerated in the workplace.

Listen and be impartial

Understand the nature of conflict, listen to both sides, and then start troubleshooting solutions. It is important to be impartial and maintain an unbiased and unprejudiced view about the matter at hand. Help those around you achieve their objectives. Know the underlying reason for their behaviors and actions. What they say and how they act may be different from how they actually feel.

Do not postpone conflict resolution

If a conflict does flair up, you will likely minimize its severity by dealing with it quickly. Otherwise, the situation could escalate and then eventually affect employee performance. Timing, again, is crucial.

It is also important to ensure that the situation is not addressed hastily without careful consideration. Your decision will directly affect the demeanor and performance of your staff and the outcome of such conflict resolution. Time spent identifying and understanding natural tensions will help to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Conflicts are opportunities

A disagreement can be an opportunity for growth, development, and learning. Divergent positions addressed properly can stimulate innovation and learning in ways that like-minds can’t even imagine. Smart leaders look for the upside in all differing opinions.

Read more on: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/02/22/5-keys-to-dealing-with-workplace-conflict/

Dr. James Wharton - Louisville Dermatology Clinic In Kentucky

Dr. James Wharton uncovers insights that could lead to better business decisions.

Dr. James Wharton - Louisville Dermatology Clinic In Kentucky

Name: James R. Wharton, MD
Clinic: The Aesthetics Center of Louisville/ Louisville  Dermatology Clinic
Location: Louisville, KY
Website: aestheticscenter.org and louisvilledermatology.org

Tell us about your clinic? What treatments do you provide?

We have separated our practice into two clinics. The Louisville Dermatology Clinic is a full service general dermatology practice. We evaluate and treat patients with any skin disease or condition. We treat adult and pediatric patients. We perform surgical procedures such as biopsies, excisions and more complicated cases requiring Mohs micrographic surgery. We have a full dermatopathology lab that can provide analysis and examination of specimens on site.

The Aesthetics Center of Louisville is located in the same building but is a separate practice. We separated our practices for the benefit of our patients. We feel this ethically is the best representation we can provide to our patients. We have a state of the art full service aesthetics practice that offers: peels, microdermabrasion, make-up application, waxing, lash/brow tinting, dermaplaining, IPL, laser hair removal, laser resurfacing, leg vein treatments, various radiofrequency procedures, Ultherapy, tattoo removal, Acleara treatments for acne, MiraDry, injectable toxins, dermal fillers, and concierge VIP dermatology.

You possess active medical licenses in Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, Hawaii, Missouri, and Florida. Are there any specific distinctions regarding how you can practice medicine on each state?

I have active medical licenses in multiple states. While I currently  only practice medicine in Kentucky, it is important that physicians familiarize themselves with all the regulatory requirements for their state. There is a great deal of variation in the laws regarding which procedures can be delegated and the requirements of each state can significantly affect a business and what services they are able to offer.

Read More