Fort Worth, Texas,
10:42 AM

4 Reasons Doctors Are Terrible at Meetings

What do those people do down at the admin building all day? All I ever hear about is meetings.

Well, the fact is…that is most of what they do. And we need them to keep right on doing it.

While we can roll our eyes or scoff, the reality is it’s those meetings that keep our practices going and our hospital making money which keeps us in business and allows us to take good care of patients without worrying so much about all the other stuff.

We can avoid meetings like the plague and survive. But, like it or not, there will be times where we need to attend meetings in order to thrive in a healthcare system.

Here are 4 mistakes that doctors make in regards to meeting…and what you can do about them.

1. We don’t realize their value.

If you talk about your administrators spending all their day in meetings and roll your eyes, you probably won’t be ready to engage in one when you need to. But, the problem is, if you want to affect change anywhere beyond interactions with individual patients, you will have to participate in meetings. Now, don’t get me wrong, it will inevitably take twice as many meetings as it probably should and it’s possible that you won’t have to be present for all of them but it’s important to listen to those times when your presence is necessary. Are you hearing chatter that suggests the initiative might be facing opposition or losing traction? That’s when you have to be there. An advocate can cover the rest.

2. We don’t appreciate the importance of an agenda or preparation.

If you are running a meeting, one of the most important things you can do is to prepare and have an agenda. Meetings with agendas get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time and will lead to a lot less frustration. If you send the agenda out ahead of time, it’s much more likely that the people you need to attend will come. Sometimes the calendar invite doesn’t quite sum up what is going to happen in a way that lets everyone know whose attendance is optional and whose is mandatory. During the meeting, it keeps everyone on track and minimizes fruitless chatter.

3. We don’t understand or aren’t used to conflict.

Most doctors are used to working in environments where their word is the final say. Meetings with admins don’t always work that way…and it’s a good thing. Conflict in a meeting helps us challenge our thoughts and beliefs in a way that could lead to bigger and better ideas. If you attend a meeting where everyone pats you on the back or simply agrees, you didn’t have a meeting, you gave a presentation and it probably should have been done through email.

4. We don’t perceive how our presence affects the meeting.

When you go to a meeting you change the dynamics. It’s often difficult for members of other departments to speak up to or share idea with doctors. They may be used to speaking freely and sharing opinions but they may be more cautious around you because they don’t know you as well or are afraid how your will take their thoughts (maybe even criticisms). It’s important to set the ground rules early, let everyone know that you want to hear their thoughts and then respond well when they give them. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak up. If someone isn’t contributing, seek their opinion directly.

So, go ahead, roll your eyes but roll into your meeting with energy and preparation and they will feel a lot more productive.

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.



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