“Dr. Tom” called me in frustration to discuss the fact that his office manager of 15 years leaves every day at 2 p.m. He is understandably concerned because the office is essentially left unattended for the better part of the afternoon. Moreover, a multitude of essential duties are routinely left undone because when the clock strikes mid-afternoon, “Kim” is out the door.
While the role and specific duties of the office manager may vary from practice to practice, the cornerstone of the job is efficiency. This person should be able to oversee key practice systems to ensure that the office is running efficiently. They may have multiple duties including answering phones, helping with the schedule, running reports, sitting down with the doctors to alert them to issues, and concerns with patients and staff. Whatever shape the role takes, it must be clearly defined to best meet the overall management needs of the practice. And the duties must be spelled out, point by point, in black and white. Additionally, specific goals for the position that compliment overall practice goals must be identified. Performance measurements must be in place to measure the individual’s success as well as necessary tools to help the individual achieve success, such as office manager training.
In the case of Kim, Dr. Tom values her contribution to the practice and emphasizes that she has been a good employee. However, it appears that given her years with the practice she now believes that she is entitled to a “flexible” schedule. Again, Kim needs specific direction from the doctor as to what is expected of her. Once Kim understands clearly what the role of office manager means in this practice, she can choose to accept the job or find other opportunities.