Ask any recent graduate or experienced allied health professional why they do what they do, and almost without fault, the answer will be: “To help others”.
It surprises me that so many allied health businesses do not have this purpose or one similar at the core of their practice. A purpose and a guiding set of values used every day provide an anchor when things get tough, bring us back to what is important and help us get back on track.
When I was 29 and not long had my second baby, I felt that I needed to go back to work. I needed some adult time and to practice my craft. I found what I thought was the perfect job in a Private Practice. 12 hours per week, 3 mornings, 4 hours and a childcare centre with places right next door. I thought that I had struck the lottery.
I lasted 12 weeks, and for 11 of those 12 weeks, I was unhappy. After the first week, my list was full. I would see a new patient for 30 minutes and a returning patient for 15 minutes. By mid-morning, I was running late, and by the end of my shift, I was running half an hour over time and still had 16 patients notes to write. While not one of my core values, punctuality is one of my personal (and as an employer) non-negotiables. I had to rush at the end of my morning to pick my girls up and would often be running late. I already had some personal guilt about putting them into childcare, so it was also very difficult not being there for them when I was expected.
My personal values of helping others, caring and listening, doing a good job and running on time; oh and being a good Mum were all challenged. I did not have a proper conversation, as I would these days with the practice owner but did explain to her that I could not work like that. She was not interested and indicated to me that this was “the expectation”. A true armoured leader who it seemed just cared about the money. An alert further magnified when I was instructed to “sell something” to each person that came through the door. By the way, she was very upset when I handed in my resignation.
I do not know but I sincerely hope that practices like this do not exist anymore. They are not good for our patients, our employees or for the profession. This experience and stories of Private Practices that focus on profit or money, treating employees like commodities and where there appear to be no values or care concern me. Focus on the profit and there is a big risk of losing or burning out your best asset, your employees and losing the reason that you exist; your patients and referrers.
A business with a clearly articulated purpose will prosper by having a team bonded in a united cause. The purpose-created culture will filter down through every part of your business, including looking after your employees through recruitment, retention, mentoring- referrers, and patients. Above all, your purpose will drive performance and financial gain.
Give it a go. You may not experience immediate benefits, but you will certainly feel a whole lot better. The benefits will flow on.
Dianna Howell CMgr MIML MAPA