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Fam Pract Manag. 2007;14(2):48

Share freebies with employees

In our practice, my husband and I order our supplies from a company that sends us thank you gifts for large orders and at various times throughout the year. Instead of taking these gifts home for ourselves, we hold drawings for employees to win them. Every employee's name goes into the drawing and is taken out when he or she wins. After everyone has won something, we start over with everyone's name in the hat again. The gifts are very nice and have included mp3 players, digital cameras, rolling ice coolers and small kitchen appliances. Our employees appreciate the extra rewards. Also, this is an inexpensive way for us to add a little fun to the stressful environment of day-to-day patient care.

Manage your perfectionism

Perfectionism can lead to low self esteem and chronic disappointment if it's not well-controlled. Keep it in check with these tips:

  • Learn to say no to projects or tasks that are impractical or emotionally draining.

  • Set goals for yourself that are realistic and obtainable. For example, setting a goal to research, choose and implement an electronic health record in your practice in six months is probably not realistic.

  • Don't try to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate.

  • Realize that the success of your life is not measured by your accomplishments alone.

Offer criticism with care

When giving feedback to a staff member about an aspect of his or her job performance that needs improvement, make sure you do it constructively and in a way that helps to preserve his or her self-esteem. New or young staff members may be especially sensitive to criticism.

Several strategies have made these discussions more productive in my practice. Comfortable seating is a good start. I begin the conversation with sincere, positive remarks that relate to the person in general. I assure him or her that I understand the difficulties of adapting to a new job. I then specify what needs to be improved (e.g., quality of X-rays) and explain that the reputation of the clinic and the well-being of the patients depend on the work of the physicians and staff. We then brainstorm ways the staff member can improve his or her performance, and I express my optimism about his or her future at the clinic.

Consider clinical trials

Clinical trials can produce a number of benefits for practices that choose to participate in them. They can provide you and your patients with new treatment options, generate new revenue and boost your practice's reputation. A thorough and realistic financial analysis that accounts for increased nursing costs and other expenses, as well as the potential for low patient enrollment or patient drop-outs, can help you determine whether clinical trials would be worthwhile for your practice. You should also carefully review the clinical trial contract to ensure that it's favorable. A Step-by-Step Guide to Clinical Trials, published by the Medical Group Management Association, provides additional information.

Be aware of your impact

Employees look for indications that their leaders are competent, visionary and trustworthy. The more positive they feel about your leadership, the harder they work, the more they contribute and the more likely they are to stay with your practice. Because they're always scrutinizing what you say and do and analyzing your words and actions, even trivial comments and behaviors have an impact. For a leader, there's no such thing as a casual conversation. You can't totally manage the signals you send or control the way others interpret them, but it's important to be sensitive to the effect you might have. Communicate regularly and clearly with your staff, especially during tough times, and you'll gain their trust and confidence, which will lead your practice to success.


Practice Pearls presents the best advice on effective, efficient practice operations and patient care drawn from the medical and business literature, along with tips developed from your experience. Send us your best pearl (250 words or less), and if we publish it, you'll earn $25. We also welcome questions for our Q&A section. Send your pearls and your questions to us at


Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Submit a pearl (250 words or less) to FPM at

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Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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