An extra paid holiday vs an end-of-year bonus; Luring back a former employee; Two heads are better when planning a new office; When a patient wants to show his appreciation
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QSeveral years ago, I nearly closed my practice to take a job with a large multispecialty group. At the last minute, I changed my mind, but not before I lost a wonderful nurse to another practice. I'm again in the market for an RN and want to lure back this nurse. Any suggestions on how to do it?
A Offer to pay her more than she's making now. But if she's that wonderful, your colleague won't want to lose her and may top your bid. Understand that you'll risk angering him, too, so think twiceespecially if he's a referral source. You may be better off placing a help-wanted ad.
Q I've heard that paid time off is one of the benefits that employees appreciate the most. Would it be a good idea to replace the usual holiday bonus with an extra paid day off?
A Ask your staff which they'd prefer before you make any changes. Your employees may depend a great deal on that holiday bonus. But if you end up giving them the extra day off, stagger it among your staffers so they don't all end up taking off the same day.
QOur group is interviewing architects to build our new office. Do we need an interior designer, too, or can we let the architect handle the decorating details?
A An interior designer will know more than most architects do about furniture, cabinets, and carpeting. Ideally, you should hire the designer and architect at the same time, so the two firms can coordinate their work.
Both professionals should talk with you and your staff to learn what you envision for the waiting room, exam rooms, consulting room, and front office. An interior designer can recommend which positions and configurations of desks, shelves, countertops, computers, and drawers will allow for the greatest comfort and productivity.
Be sure both the designer and architect you hire have medical-office experience.
QI'm treating a very wealthy patient who has a chronic debilitating condition. Although he's never offered me a gift, he tries to shower me with favors"test driving" his luxury SUV for a week, a cruise on his yacht, a weekend at his country estate, and so on. So far, I've resisted these goodies, but I'm tempted. Since they don't really have any monetary value, would it be ethical to accept?
A It's ethical to accept an occasional small gift or favor from a patient. More than that "places you in his power to command," as one consultant puts it. And if your treatment involves controlled substances, there's a remote chance that federal drug agents would suspect the perks are a payoff.
However, if the patient simply wants to thank you, it's okay to accept a more modest offer. Say you'd be honored to be his guest at the symphony or to dine at his house.
Do you have a practice management question that may be stumping other doctors, too? Write: PMQA Editor, Medical Economics magazine, 5 Paragon Drive, Montvale, NJ 07645-1742, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your regular postal address). Sorry, but we're not able to answer readers individually.
Kristie Perry. Practice Management. Medical Economics 2002;24:70.