Charan Sarai - Practice Manager Adviser

A guide to surviving your first week as a Practice Manager

The first week in any job can be daunting and it’s no different in general practice... or is it? 

We met up with business manager Kay Ellermeyer and Practice Manager Zain Aslam to find out about the group for new Practice Managers that they have recently formed, as well as more on their first week on the job. Together we have also created the ultimate check-list for new (and existing) Practice Managers to help you get through your first week in a new practice management position.

Kay, who is business manager at the Alvanley Family Practice in Cheshire, is chairing a new group aimed at helping first-time Practice Managers, along with Zain, who is a Practice Manager at Village Surgery, Cheshire.

The group have already had their first meeting, where a CCG representative took notes and they created a buddy system. New managers attending came from various walks of life, some had grown up in general practice - from reception to manager - whilst some had come from secondary care and others from different sectors (like banking).

During the informal session, most new managers confided that CQC inspections and understanding NHS language were their biggest challenges, as well as admitting that when attending other already established PM Meetings, it was always apparent they were a new PM.

What can you expect from you first week?

We asked the new Practice and Business Managers how their first week in General Practice went...

Kay 

I worked on reception to try and get a feel for the practice - briefing with the partners consisted of an overview of the staff, and the offer of an open door for any questions or concerns.  One of the lead GP’s also arranged for me to meet other local practice and business managers and gave me some good contacts within the CCG.  This experience and time with others was invaluable.

There was initially no contract of employment; the induction plan was difficult as there wasn't a hand over with the previous Practice Manager thus making a job plan impossible to develop. Passwords and access were requested when I needed them rather than being set up in advance. 

I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves though and have since become an active part of the team.  I think this has made a big difference to my understanding of what is expected of the staff and what they face on a day to day basis.

I previously had a successful career within NHS England managing a programme of work across the UK. I’d be in meetings at Whitehall, giving presentations to large groups of leaders, staying in hotels all over the country, being an expert in my field.  But I wasn't really happy.  Staying away from home 3 or 4 nights a week wasn’t at all glamorous, so I took redundancy and applied (and was offered) for the business manager role.

Working in general practice has changed my views on the locality and the reality of general practice. There is a heavy workload and it is a diverse role, with everyone wanting more and more from staff in practice, yet with no additional resource and help.  It is the best and worst job I have ever had and I love it!

Zain

I was thrown in the deep end, but I worked it all out. There was no structure in place or formal plan, so I met with two out-of-area Practice Managers to gather some knowledge.

Like Kay, I also sat on reception with the staff, but the GP Partners thought it appeared too hands on.

There was no induction or contract 30 days into the job and it took over 2 months after requesting personal reviews with the partners to get them.

I took a proactive approach and carried out analysis of policies and staff needs though, and built up trust with the other staff.

The workload is heavy and I need more time to prepare for CQC, but I have instigated lots of new initiatives to promote better communications with monthly calendar/agenda invites and a kitty fund – staff contribute to the fund and the partners match it.

How can FPM help you in your new role?

We asked Kay and Zain what they felt FPM could do to help new Practice Managers in their role. Both immediately admitted that the policies and protocols library made a big difference to their experience moving into a managerial role in general practice, but also admitted a check-list of what to start with would have been helpful.

So, using feedback from other Practice Managers, we've put together a check-list for new starters, or even seasoned Practice Managers who are starting a new role in general practice.

We first looked at gathering information on the top ten tasks to complete in your first week.

However, we also realised that getting into the swing of things can take much longer than a week, particularly in such a diverse role, so we have also put together some word documents containing lists of things to look for in your first month, quarter, and tasks for the end of the financial year, as well as a general guide to questions you should be asking when you meet with the practice accountant.

If you are a new Practice Manager and would like further guidance on managing a busy and successful practice, consider FPM Group's Introduction to Practice Management Training Course.

 

© First Practice Management, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Comments

Eloise 20/01/2016

Couldn't agree with Dafydd more. It seems somewhat unlikely that a practice which has achieved well for so many years can have no processes or structure in place. Being a practice manager is a hard job, not everyone is up to it and so contracts may not be offered after trial periods.


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