- Posted Wednesday March 4, 2020
A practice manager shares their story of what led them to fall in love with general practice – and how the experience of overcoming the bullying behaviour of a colleague helped them become a better manager.
My first “proper job” was as a receptionist in a GP surgery in the town close to where I grew up. A relative of one of my friends worked there at the time and I think she wanted to make me grow up, and realise that I wasn’t the centre of the universe.
A clash of personalities - or something more?
They did a fabulous job - within a week I was in love with general practice, and knew that the world didn’t revolve around me. I worked at that practice for many years, I absolutely loved it! But there was one senior member of staff I did not enjoy working with - we clashed, and I found it difficult to understand some of their methods.
I know now that having a senior role at a practice is a very tough job, but some of their techniques were akin to bullying – of course I didn’t realise that then, and just thought that was what it took to be a senior member of the team.
I eventually ended up leaving the practice for reasons outside my control, and when that happened I was devastated. At the same time however, I knew that if I didn’t do something different I would end up in the same practice for ever. Following this came years of working at a variety of businesses, but I was always thinking back to general practice. Having met some very different leaders and managers over those years I knew that I could do things my own way.
It was that desire to do things differently that drew me back into General Practice.
I came to a point in my life that gave me the opportunity to reassess what I wanted. My key drivers were to work within walking distance from home, and be somewhere that I could help build a community. I had worked on the road for many years and I really needed to choose something that was for me and my wellbeing. My current practice came along and really all the stars must have been aligned at the right time; the practice is close enough to home that I can walk, but not so close that my neighbours are patients. It’s in a wonderful, caring and supportive community and has an amazing team of clinicians and staff.
Taking a different approach to management
I have been here for a number of years now and things are never dull, never the same day twice and always challenging. One thing that there isn’t a sign of is bullying; in fact I am really keen on supporting our wonderful team of staff and spend time developing them and their skills.
I didn’t used to think I had learnt anything from the bad experiences I had in my first practice, but I probably had learnt more there than at any other place that I had worked for – how not to deal with people! I do wish that I had realised what was happening at the time and had been able to challenge their behaviour. Sadly that wasn’t the case. But I do know that now I am a much better practice manager for being in that situation!
So, the essence of why I wanted to be a Practice Manager is really for three key reasons, selfishly I wanted to have a much better life, I wanted to do things differently and I wanted to banish the memories of the bully. I am really happy to say that my experiences make me a better person every day.
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