Develop Job Descriptions

Steps to Develop Job Descriptions

Perform a job analysis for each position

Consider your practice's needs. How are existing staff positions meeting– or not meeting– those needs? What new positions, or changes to existing positions, are required to address unmet needs?

Consider a consultant

You may spend less money and avoid legal issues if you hire a human resources consultant to develop and revise your job descriptions, especially if your practice has many staff positions or your practice manager has limited experience in this area.

The AAFP Buyer's Guide( is an online database that provides profiles of consulting firms according to your specifications. Select "Personnel Issues" under the "Consultants" category to search for human resources professionals in your area.

  • For new positions:
    • Identify important contributions for the position.
      • For example, for a receptionist position, an important contribution might be "Provides a welcoming, professional greeting to patients and other visitors to the practice."
    • Try to anticipate future needs.
      • For example, if you know you'll be buying an electronic health record system (EHR) soon, consider which jobs will carry EHR-related responsibilities. By doing so, you can avoid having to revise job descriptions in the near future.
  • For existing positions:
    • Gather information for analysis by asking staff to fill out a job description questionnaire to describe their primary tasks and roles.
    • Observe and evaluate current staff responsibilities. Does the existing job description accurately reflect the scope of work for each position?
    • Conduct individual performance reviews.
    • Perform work audits to review time management, workflow, and staff division of work.

Draft a description of each position

Keep the following in mind when writing new and revising existing job descriptions:

  • List qualifications and requirements, providing specifics about what each job requires in the following categories:
    • Physical abilities
    • Skills
    • Education/training
    • Experience
    • License
    • Cross-training
    • Continuing education requirements, if any
    • Requirements for maintaining licensure and/or certification, if any
    • Travel expectations, if any
  • Include the requirement to perform other duties as assigned.
  • Specify decision-making authority and supervisory responsibility, if any.
  • Avoid discriminatory language, in keeping with state and federal laws and regulations, including anti-discrimination laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act(

If your analysis reveals that a staff person has taken on a responsibility that isn't currently listed in his or her job description, be sure to add it.

Assign job titles or review current titles

  • Determine an appropriate job classification.
    • For example, if a staff member was hired as a receptionist but is now working as a medical assistant, the position should become a medical assistant position.
  • Make each job title a straightforward representation of the position.
  • Avoid potentially confusing terms.
    • For example, an administrator could be responsible for overall practice administration (e.g., finances, policy), but "administrator" could also describe a job performing administrative (i.e., clerical) work.

Discuss new or revised job descriptions with staff

Each staff member needs to understand and accept his or her job description, especially if roles and responsibilities have changed.

  • Meet with each staff member individually to discuss the revised job description, roles and responsibilities, and any additional training that will be needed.
  • Hold an all-staff meeting to discuss job descriptions and any new division of work.

Periodically review job descriptions and update as necessary

Just like your patients, the job descriptions you develop need regular check-ups. Job descriptions that are more than one year old are likely out-of-date.

What You Will Need

  • Word processing software, such as Microsoft Word
  • A job description questionnaire(0 bytes)
  • Time to review data from questionnaires
  • Time to observe staff and evaluate their daily responsibilities
  • Time to meet with staff, individually and as a group

Difficulty: Moderate for a practice manager with some human resources experience; difficult for someone without

Outcome: Accurate job descriptions for all staff positions

Time to Complete: Two to four weeks

See Also
  • Job Description Questionnaire(0 bytes)
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