Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A check-list to the rescue!

I recently hired a medical assistant. She came to me fresh out of school. Actually, she is still in school, technically, because she is doing her externship in my office. I am training her.

I like her. She is eager and honest, and for me, nothing else matters more. Otherwise, she is blank slate and knows NOTHING! That is how I wanted it.

However, blank slates don't know how to properly clean exam rooms, sterilize instruments, set-up for procedures, forward phone-calls, dip urines, or anything that is required and basic to medical practice. Despite my repeated efforts to train her, she just could not quite seem to "get it" and was messing up left and right.

Now I had 3 options.

  1. Fire her

  2. Promote her

  3. Study her

I decided that the substrate was there and that I would need to figure out why she was failing me, or actually, why I was failing her. After a brief period of observation I learned that she was simply overwhelmed by the volume and was unable to remember her duties and to prioritize them.

The solution: a check-list.

I spent approximately 20 minutes brainstorming her duties and compiling them into a check-list format, which I then printed out and reviewed with her. I was afraid to insult her, so I told her that I used check-lists in college and medical school, and found them to be indispensable. All of which was true. She took the list in the vain that I had offered it and something amazing happened.

Her performance has taken a 180 degree turn immediately. Tasks are being completed on-time, without prompting, and I am free to pursue my duties. She is less stressed and happier, and so am I.

A check-list! Give it a try.


The IU.