How to fix GP Time Management; the most common negative review

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It’s so disappointing when we research a Doctor and see negative reviews that on further investigation point only to disgruntled patients who had to sit in the waiting room for too long.

Does this make a Doctor ‘a bad Doctor’?

Of course not! But unfortunately, your average patient is not aware of the patient that you just spent an extra 20 minutes with because they were close to breakdown or the extra check you did which might have saved a patient’s life.

These things can happen and all Doctors will sometimes experience the ‘never ending day’.

What is not appropriate though and worthy of a bad review is the Doctor who strolls in at 9:15am, when the first patient is booked at 9am. It happens all too often and quite frankly is disrespectful to the support staff who are holding the fort and know the whole day is now going to be thrown out, let alone the waiting patient who may have had a sleepless night worrying about their test results and wanted the first appointment of the day.

A disorganised Doctor raises concerns of whether they have missed something important when the key things a patient desires are clarity and a sense of trust.

But Doctors are still humans and frequently juggling numerous balls of life, let alone patients. Patient Care is far more important than the clock, but poor time management will control you resulting in your work life becoming exhausting and depressing!

There is a wonderful Female GP on the Gold Coast who many a time I have watched in awe, as she seems to dance through her day with big smiles and mostly on time. When she is running behind, she personally advises her waiting patients and the 30 second courtesy works wonders in pacifying the patients. When it is your turn, you have her undivided attention and she shows nothing of her stress of being behind time.

I asked her how she does it and the simple answer was, “I monitor and analyse and tweak my time accordingly. You can always grow and learn and this too is true about utilising time effectively”.

“I used to take work home”, she said, “then I realised it was unfair on my three young daughters, I wanted to be a Mother that was present and a Doctor that was present and to do that they deserved undivided attention, so, I made the conscious decision to master my time”.

The Doctor takes time every morning to organise her day and takes ten minutes at the end of the day to review. At the end of the week she gives herself a half hour to prioritise the following week.

Her top 5 tips to fix GP Time Management are:

1. Plan

  • Your week and then your day
  • Set time deadlines and stick to them
  • Get urgent short tasks out of the way
  • Tick off - it gives a great sense of achievement

2. Prioritise

  • Focus on the important not the easy
  • Can you delegate or rule out anything?
  • Set goals
  • Optimise your work space

3. Simplify

  • Much the same as revising, find a system that works for you, a diary, list, work book, chart, Outlook, or phone app
  • Block similar tasks and make them bite sized chunks - complete before moving on
  • Create templates, use Outlook Quick Parts or Gmail Canned Reponses, and address lists
  • File daily

4. Delegate

  • If it is a basic task or less important is there someone else that can do it for you?
  • If it is out of your scope pass it on or ask for help
  • Teach your support staff your filing system, stick to it and use it
  • Give your support staff your templates and Quick Parts, train and then trust

5. Don’t get Distracted 

  • Reduce interruptions by closing your door
  • Set specific times that you will receive calls
  • Pencil in time for the reception or nurses to debrief
  • Use meeting times effectively to remain approachable and collaborative

By giving a little bit of focused time to planning her work day, the Doctor believes she has saved herself hours of stressed time trying to pull things together. Her appointments run mostly on time and when she is thrown the curve ball of a critically ill patient, she believes she is better equipped to focus and treat effectively.

And you guessed it… her reviews are outstanding!

At Medical Recruitment, we’ve been specialising in GP recruitment for a long time, so we have expert knowledge in the space. If you’re looking for an exciting opportunity to work as a locum doctor or want a permanent job, then look no further - get in touch with our Recruitment Consultants now.