A League of Your Own

Remember watching an old Tom Hanks movie called, "A League Of Their Own," about the women's baseball league during WWII. In the movie, Gena Davis, who was incredibly passionate and alive with her love for the game, but was ready to quit the league because her husband returned from war with a minor injury and wanted to move back to Oregon. While trying to "sneak away," her coach Tom Hanks confronted her and asked her why she was leaving. She replied that with her husband coming home, things just became a little too hard. Tom Hanks replied "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes you great."

This relates so well with a parallel to thriving podiatry practices with podiatrists and staff that understand that little comes in life worth anything that is not hard takes work, focus, and dedication. Upon visiting top practices throughout the country, there are common threads that weave success, peace, and joy for those who work in the practice as well as happy and satisfied patients. Mahatma Gandhi said that “the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.” And to close this gap is where the hard and challenging work comes to light. Ask any veteran practitioner with an accomplished practice their secret of success and most will answer that they worked day-in and day-out in the early years to build the foundation of success. And for their colleagues who did not do the same, they reaped what they sowed: mediocrity.

On several occasions the magical number of 10,000 hours of practice, work, or focus brings an individual to the top level in their profession whether it is in sports or Bill Gates who in his college years spent over 10,000 hours in the computer lab. This has also been seen with many Olympians and famous composers. In relation to podiatry practices, it is common to see that top practices are driven by podiatrists who dedicate the time beyond anything related to patient care to discover and learn all they can about all the aspects of what leads to the most productive and efficient practice (hence, what one could call a top practice).

Here are how practitioners with practices in a “league of their own” climb the ladder:

Read

By reading practical, motivational, and uplifting books you can develop the right mindset necessary to stay ahead of the curve in your practices and start looking at situations in different ways to seek winning solutions. You will learn lessons and acquire the tools on how to persist and deal with adversity realizing that this is all in a day’s work when working as a physician in today’s times. Options to reading is to listen to CD’s when in car or put on iPod or MP3 player. Look for recommending book list on home page of www.aappm.org.

Consultants

By definition, a consultant is an experienced individual that is trained to analyze and advise a client in order to help the client make the best possible choices. To achieve your best, your valuable time should be spent on what you do and know best and leave the rest to experts in a particular area. There are several areas that paid consultants can be of great value in a podiatric practice. When expanding, redesigning, or building a new office, architects specializing in medical office design and flow office do incredible work and will increase the efficiency of your office substantially. There is a trend in podiatry practices to hire a part or full time marketer and community service liaison to grow the practice (see www.integratedmedreps.com). Their focus is just not on external marketing, but also what goes on within the office to enhance patients experience and impression and works on important marketing tools such as your website and social media (the big buzz in marketing today). When hiring a new staff member or associate, in addition to always doing a background check, it is a wise and a minimal investment to (www.dpmhiring.com) predict their performance and match with the needs and personality of your practice so you make more sound hiring decisions. Another well-known company within podiatry to work with you to market your practice is Top Practices (www.toppractices.com), they work as a the partner that top professionals turn to for guidance to achieve better results in marketing their businesses or private practices. And finally many of us are in search of an associate, purchasing a practice or forging a partnership. A big mistake is asking a colleague for a copy of their contract to use for their situation especially when it comes to a buy-in or practice sale. Each situation is unique especially when dealing with tax consequences, a popular consultant company for this in podiatry can be found at www.provideresources.com.

Volunteer

Others will look at your actions with volunteerism as a way of balancing between serving to not only improve the physical health of the community, but also improve the overall well-being of the community. Keep your eyes open each day for giving opportunities. Listen carefully to what others are saying, and you will be amazed at chances to volunteer and help, both big and small. Time is a challenge in our crazy life as a physician, but you will find that the more you volunteer, the better you feel and you will increase your productivity in all areas of your life, resulting in much better time management.

Mentor and be Mentored

A terrific way to give back is to open your office and knowledge base to podiatry students, residents, and new practitioners and pick a few to mentor. The result will not just elevate your feeling of making a difference, but this help to raise our profession to new levels in the eyes of the public and the medical community. The youth in our profession can create a village of supporters so we can graduate the best podiatrists possible. Mentors and students need each other. The student needs an example to follow. The mentor needs the motivation to be a good example. People have always sought to learn from those who were more experienced or more knowledgeable.

In order for mentoring to be most effective consider these guidelines:

  • Formal structure and weekly contact.
  • It’s in the best interest of the mentor to discover what the mentee loves to do and create activities with that in mind.
  • Best results with mentoring when have goals and timelines.

As well as serving as a mentor in order to grow, enjoy the ride and have an outlet to share frustrations and concerns we should all have a mentor of two. This should be someone we look up to with similar values and willingness to share their best and especially be a good listener. Best to have someone within podiatry or, for example, if you need a mentor to develop your leadership skills in the office, hook up with a business person with exceptionally strong leadership skills. A recent article in the New York Times was about a well know surgeon who paired up with a mentor to observe him in surgery to take his already high skills to a new level, something he suggested all surgeons to do. 

In the next issue of Podiatry Management Magazine we visit the next winning season with more ideas to move your practice into a “league of its own.” 

Hal Ornstein, DPM and Neil Baum, MD