4 Common Mistakes That First-Year Doctors Make
Completing medical, veterinary, or dental school, to say nothing of residencies and fellowships, is a major accomplishment. Anyone who crosses the finish line and actually starts practicing deserves every commendation.
Just because you’ve completed your clinical training, however, does not mean that your education is over. There is always more to learn about the administrative, legal, and financial aspects of practice management. Often, these considerations are learned on the job, and occasionally through trial and error.
To make the learning process go a bit smoother, it can be helpful to know about some of the most common pitfalls and errors. Here are four common mistakes that first-year practitioners tend to make.
Common Errors to Avoid in Your First Year of Practice
1) Rushing through contracts.
As a provider, you’ll likely sign plenty of employment contracts over the course of your career. Take the time to slow down, read through your contracts, and understand what they are and are not saying. Rushing through your contracts, without taking the time to learn and to advocate for yourself, is an incredibly common issue
Some specific considerations: Does the contract in question have an easy-to-understand structure for compensation and bonuses? Does it require you to spend any of your time supervising residents, fellows, or other providers? How often are you expected to be on call, particularly during night or weekend hours? And perhaps most importantly, what’s the way to get out of your contract should a better opportunity present itself?
2) Being careless about kickback schemes.
Simply put, first-year providers tend to be pretty big targets for kickback schemes. After all, your patients trust you, they will generally be more than willing to follow your advice, and it’s all too easy to get patients to take certain medicines or use certain third-party services.
There’s nothing wrong with pursuing legitimate business deals, of course, but be aware of just how easy it can be to get sucked into fraud or into generally unethical behavior. Always have your attorney review any proposed business arrangements, even the ones that seem pretty straightforward and innocuous. And if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use extra caution in these situations!
3) Failing to have a lawyer advocate for you.
To generalize our previous point, it’s important to always have a legal consultant you can call on to review paperwork or to vet potential agreements.
You’ll undoubtedly encounter potential partners or colleagues who swear that the arrangement they’re bringing you has been approved by their own lawyer. That’s fine, but you need someone you know and trust who can advocate for what’s in your best interests.
4) Turning a blind eye to compliance issues.
Let’s say you’re working in a small group practice, and there’s one provider who routinely flouts regulatory compliance… even in minor ways, such as coding or billing shortcuts.
It’s tempting to think that this isn’t really your problem, but actually, a compliance issue at your practice can affect all of the providers. At the very least, it will involve a lot of legal headaches for everyone if the issue is ever discovered. And at most, it can involve serious reputational damage to the practice… and, by extension, to you personally.
Make sure you know what the compliance plan is for your practice, and that you report any violations to the appropriate person, using the right channels.
Approach Your First Year of Practice Wisely
The first year of practice should be really exciting. It will inevitably involve some major learning experiences, too. Hopefully, simply by knowing some of the most common pitfalls, you can avoid having to learn too many lessons the hard way.
As you seek the right allies and advocates to keep your career on the right course, we invite you to meet with our team of consultants. Reach out to LenDRgroup Consulting at your next convenience.