Doctors - Help Your C.A.s!

Doctors - Help Your C.A.s!

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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By Marilyn Gard

A few months ago we ran an article about the pet peeves of doctors, issues that have been brought to our attention over the past few years of seminar speaking. Now it’s time to turn the tables — and air the pet peeves of C.A.s. We’re putting it in writing because C.A.s don’t always feel that they can confront the doctor directly. Obviously, that would be the ideal situation. But since that can’t always happen, we’ll play the surrogate role and do it for you. Here are some of the pet peeves as they’ve been discussed with us:

1. Doctors who arrive late. Whether it’s late arrival for work in the morning or late arrival from lunch, the impact is the same: C.A.s have to face patients who have become testy as they sit and wait to be treated. It puts C.A.s in an awkward situation. Patients will even come to the front desk and demand (in a loud voice) to know what’s happening. There is no good way to explain that the doctor hasn’t arrived yet. If it’s a one-time occurrence, it can be explained. If it happens repeatedly, it leaves C.A.s at a loss for words. In plain words, it is rude to be consistently late — it’s telling the patients that their time isn’t valuable.

2. Doctors who hide in their office making phone calls while patients wait. This situation is similar to the first one, except that the doctor is in the office talking on the phone instead of adjusting patients. As the reception room fills and patients become restless, stress builds for the C.A.s. When patients see people being ushered into rooms and leaving a short time later, they realize that their turn is drawing closer. However, when the reception room becomes stagnant because patients are not being processed, patients get understandably upset. They take their frustration out on the C.A.s. The solution to both of these first two situations is simple: Patients come first. If the doctor puts the needs of the patients first, he/she will arrive on time and spend the day in the treatment rooms. Phone calls should be made only when there are no patients present.

3. Doctors who never have time to adjust their staff. There is no reason why a C.A. should have to beg for an adjustment, but that happens. Doctors hurry out of the office at lunch time and leave immediately after the last patient at night. C.A.s are forced to go without an adjustment for weeks at a time — putting their health at risk and decreasing their productivity. Since chiropractic adjustments keep people at their optimum health, it would seem that staff members should be given top priority. It sets a very poor example when C.A.s are constantly sick! When a chiropractor believes in chiropractic care, this situation should never occur.

4. Doctors who do not listen to the suggestions of their C.A.s. No one, including doctors, wants to listen to complaints; some doctors do not address office problems because they’ve spent the entire day listening to patient problems and the doctor can’t handle more negativity. Ignoring the problem, though, creates tension and unnecessary stress. To turn it around, some C.A.s have learned to outline problems and suggest solutions. When C.A.s make suggestions, doctors need to listen and be willing to change. An unwillingness to change creates a negative attitude — and it leaves a problem unsolved.

5. Doctors who agree to a change in policy but never implement it or discontinue a new procedure prematurely. Sometimes C.A.s face a situation where the doctor agrees to a change in policy; however, the agreement is "lip service" because the change never happens. A similar frustrating situation is where a change is implemented only to be discontinued after a few weeks. For example, the doctor agrees to let the C.A.s handle patient collections. For a couple of weeks, he refers any questions about payment to the C.A.s. Gradually, though, he gets more involved again, discussing fees with patients and undermining the asisstant’s attempts to collect from recalcitrant patients. As a result, the new collections policy fails. Two months later, when collections are down, the doctor blames the C.A.s for not collecting as they should.

Establishing a good working rapport and developing an attitude of teamwork takes work. It’s a two-way street. There has to be respect for the position of the other person and a willingness to change. If doctors and C.A.s want to have an office that runs smoothly, they must work out their differences. Communication is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

Thanks to Marilyn Gard for the use of her files!


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