When hiring support staff for a medical practice, one of the most important qualities you should look for is a good bedside manner. This can help patients feel truly cared for and satisfied with the experience. It can even make the difference between a patient coming back again and again or simply choosing a different practice where they feel more comfortable.
How to Hire For Bedside Manner
It can be a difficult thing to ascertain from a quick interview or sifting through resumes though. Here are some tips to help you find the candidates with the best bedside manner.
Find People with a Calling to Serve
People who thrive in the medical field often feel “called” to do that kind of work. While this is something you can’t necessarily observe in a tangible or quantitative way, it is something to look out for when reading cover letters and performing interviews.
Mary Pat Whaley, founder and president of Manage My Practice, a practice management consulting firm, explained in an email to Small Business Trends, “All staff, whether clinical or administrative have to have that calling to serve people. Sick people are scared, angry and hurting, and support staff need to be able to understand that, not take things personally, and soothe patients when they might be at their very worst.”
Look Out for Details
Of course, there’s more to working at a medical practice than simply wanting to do so. Even little details can make a big difference in how they’ll perform. So experts advise keeping an eye out for the little things throughout the hiring process.
Manny Oliverez, a 20-year veteran of the healthcare industry and CEO of Capture Billing & Consulting said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Review the resumes for the qualities, duties and responsibilities you are looking for. Select only the best resumes. Check for misspellings, grammar and formatting. Attention to detail is very important.”
Save Time Early in the Process
When it comes time to interview, you don’t need to spend tons of time with each candidate. A quick call can help you weed out some applicants before you move on and spend an hour or more speaking in person with each one.
Oliverez says, “Conduct brief phone interviews with each candidate to rate their knowledge and personality. Each interview should be 15-30 minutes maximum – just enough to verify the candidate does indeed know the industry and to get a taste of their personality and experience as an office manager.”
Offer Real-Life Scenarios During the Interview
When you do meet with candidates you like in person, it’s a good idea to get a feel for how they handle the situations that occur at your practice on a regular basis.
Whaley says, “There are some healthcare service assessments that employers can administer to final candidates, and using behavioral interview questions based on real-life scenarios in the practice can be extremely informative.”
Use Pre Employment Testing
There are also some tools out there to help you actually administer tests to employees to ascertain their level of knowledge and adaptability to specific situations. Whaley says she is a big proponent of this method, though you do have to know what you’re doing with the testing instruments before getting started.
Bring in Candidates for a Day of Work
From there, both Whaley and Oliverez suggest bringing in your top candidate or candidates for a day or half-day of actual work to see how they perform.
Whaley says, “Because medical practices, especially small practices, can run very lean, there is a tendency to hire the first candidate that comes along. Hiring takes time and energy away from other processes in the office so it is tempting to get it done as quickly as possible. I always like to pay final candidates to come to the practice for 6 hours or so to interact with other staff, give them a chance to see what the practice looks like in full swing, and give other employees a chance to observe the candidates and see what questions the candidates ask. It’s difficult for a candidate to “put on a face” for that long, so you usually get to see more of what the person is really like.”
Joke with Them
According to Oliverez, a sense of humor is a must for support staff with great bedside manner. So while they’re in the office, joke around with them to get them to loosen up a bit. This might give you a better peek into their actual personality, rather than the guarded one they might use for job interviews.
Observe Them with Patients
During this time, you’re not going to necessarily let potential hires do medical work with patients, but you can have them do small things like greet people or ask people to sign in, just to see how they interact with patients.
Let Them Experience Difficult Situations
It can also be beneficial to let them see or at least explain difficult situations that unfold throughout the day to see how they would handle those things and make sure they believe the job is something they can really handle.
Find Out What Other Team Members Think
After this exercise, it can also be a good idea to ask other members of the team what they thought about their performance and how they would fit in within the culture of your office.
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Bedside manner is everything. It can even dictate whether or not the patient will return to you. So be sure to find the people who have such a skill.