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A Letter to Myself as a New Practice Manager

Ever wondered what advice you would give your younger self if you could turn back the clock? We asked practice manager Dwysan Rowena what sort of wisdom she would pass on to herself just before she started her role as a PM five years ago. Here’s what she responded with!

Dear me,

Five years ago you walked into an interview for that job you wanted. Practice manager.

Four hours later you received a phone call that changed the course of your career. You were to become. A. Practice. Manager.

Knowing what I do now, I would like to offer you the following thoughts.

Accept the following duties as your job... sorting out the toilet overflow, managing staff disputes about chair heights, remembering EVERYONE'S birthday, being a massive shoulder to cry on while never daring to show emotion yourself. Being nice to patients even if they threaten to remove your eyelashes one by one. It's always up to you to say sorry. 

Laugh inwardly when you're told your job is 9am to 5pm with a lunch break of half an hour. Lunch? Be prepared to be confidante to all, but also the common enemy of all. Accept that staff hate you and hate each other - but always remember they hate you more. 

Be clear that you are last in the queue for the water in the kettle and you'll always get the worst Christmas biscuits.  Occasionally you'll come into work and *she* will say hello, the next day she looks like she'll want to throw a dart through your eye socket.

Remember that you will NEVER go into work and complete what you thought you were going to do because.... there will be a flood and/or there will be a fight and/or there will be a fire and/or every GP will be off sick and/or the phones won't be working and/or the clinical system has died and/or your secretary has caught her husband in bed with her mate. It happens.

Know that this job will own you. You will thrive and you will hold a passion to care for patients like you've never known. You'll work extra hours through dedication and - due to the inward desire of spreading decent healthcare for all - you'll never take one hour back that you’re owed.

You may have to walk the boss’s dog, you might have to say his haircut makes him look younger, you may need to have long discussions about the quality of cotton wool balls while also finishing off the business plan. You will deal with complaints about the pattern of the curtains whilst also interviewing for a new practice nurse.  You are always first port of call for any spillage of vomit whilst also expected to be ready for audits and inspections.

Sometimes you'll hate the job and dream of working anywhere else but mostly…. you'll love it. Mostly.

Good luck!!!

What advice would you give your younger self as they started their career as a PM? Why not share your reflections in the comments section below. All new starters could hit the ground running with access to FPM’s comprehensive Policy and Procedure Library, including our Practice Manager Induction Checklist.

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Lou Linning 23/02/2019

My role is a temp Acting PM and Business Manager post for the same employer I was Assistant Manager with and oh boy, what an eye opener the last 3 months have been. There should be a specific chapter incorporated within the PHCM Diploma covering the pro's and con's of being a PM! Admin staff members have recently asked "does the role really require a PM to be employed full-time"? I have developed broad shoulders very quickly!

Dwysan Edwards 05/09/2017

Haha Bryan, welcome to our world!!!!

Bryan White 05/09/2017

First day in job - Within 5mins I had screwdriver in hand and trying to hang the toilet door back on its hinges....that was yesterday!

Elaine Parker-Boyd 16/03/2017

Awesome account. I have been a Pm for 4 years and in the beginning I was nearly a customer of the NHS! I even slept at the practice one weekend before my CQC inspection. Coffee maker to car park attendant to confidant with a magical fixing ninja as a side kick that helps to solve the most ridiculous problem, which apparently you keep in a box under the desk. You listen to every member of the team cry and watch GPs monitor each other's workload as if they counting each other's chips on a plate in a restaurant. Then no mater what, the finger always points to you but if you are strong enough you rise above it and remember that everyone is fit fighting thier own battle, especially you, so be firm but kind and always lead change bringing that team with you to work in a better way for staff, patient and practice. Remember willyou hear, "we've always done it like that!" Once week until you leave. Good luck.

Louise Pilcher 06/03/2017

How true but have you ever had a flood through back up of toilets 3 floors coming out of the sinks on the ground floor YUK! Then same day get a door stuck and patients and doctor locked in took an hour to release plus patient epileptic so singing outside the door to keep everyone calm to many renditions of I know a song that's going to get on your nerves. Then have a patient pitch up sware at me as staff could not get the medication script done there and then to watch them try and enter a doctors room when asked to calm down and lets see how we can help spat at yes spat at so showed them the door! That was a very eventful day article so true perhaps we should all collate and write a book on we are "practicing being a manager in general practice always"

Elly Potter 02/03/2017

This made me smile and I can relate to a lot of it!

Helen 02/03/2017

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I have been a PM for 15 years. Your letter has so much truth - it made me laugh then cry with laughter. I think FPM should adopt it as a PM Job Description - it will the nearest thing to the truth. I have perfected a foot down the loo bowl to remove paper towels whilst changing a light bulb at the same time. Along with many other 'special skills' unsure as to whether they are transferable.

Dwysan Edwards 02/03/2017

glad you all liked it :) Thank you for the comments

Amanda Nelson 02/03/2017

Love this letter - I once had to "lasso" a horse which was running around the surgery grounds. That's never been in any Practice Manager Job Description that I have seen!

Kelly Houseman 01/03/2017

This really made me smile, so true!!

Carolyn Boyd 01/03/2017

Ain't that the truth!

Kerry 01/03/2017

This is absolutely brilliant. The duties part made me lol - toilet problems are a regular occurrence that I get called to - having read this I'm glad it's not just me!!!

Margaret Tonagh 01/03/2017

Great letter - can completely identify with it!

Geraldine Jackson 01/03/2017

I've been a practice manager for just over a year and recognise so much of that letter as being 100% accurate, whilst it also made me smile!

Adele Slaney 01/03/2017

Love it!

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