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Rheumatology Practice Management October 2015 Vol 3 No 5 - NORM Highlights
Chase Doyle

Bellevue, WA—In honor of the 10th anniversary celebration of the National Organization of Rheumatology Managers (NORM), Judith Stovall, a rheumatology practice manager in Trumbull, CT, highlighted 10 different roles that a manager may assume in the course of a hectic day—with great humor and humility.

  1. Referee—As Ms Stovall sees it, running a successful practice often demands the arbitrational expertise of a referee—ensuring fair play according to the rules. “Every morning when I arrive,” said Ms Stovall, “it’s ‘Settle down! Get to your desk! Answer the phone!’ All I need to do is buy a whistle.”

  2. Firefighter—Whether it’s pa­tients calling to complain, a doctor running late to work, or the occasional office infighting, sometimes being a manager feels like “you’re putting out fires everywhere you turn.”

  3. IT Specialist (or not)—Although clearly not in the job description, alas, the practice manager is often mistaken for an IT (information technology) specialist. “I fix everything with my hammer,” Ms Stovall quipped. Which is to say, part of being a professional is understanding and enforcing the limits of your responsibilities.

  4. Child Care Worker—Interoffice squabbles can occur, it seems, all too frequently in this high-stress environment. In these situations, Ms Stovall explained, the role of the manager is not unlike a babysitter—negotiating with the fragile and impressionable egos of children. “Sometimes I feel like I’m running a romper room,” she said.

  5. Guardian of the Sandbox—Speaking of egos, it’s often the doctors themselves who require mediation. According to Ms Stovall, vacation time is a common theme of dispute, as one partner may feel that another’s workload is lacking. In these instances, it’s best to remind the doctors that “we are in a GROUP practice,” she said. “That means you’ve got to cover for him, and he’s got to cover for you.”

  6. Plumber—Also not in the job description—an unfortunate consequence of an office’s overreliance on the manager to resolve every mishap, no matter how minute or messy. “I do whatever I’ve got to do to make the office run,” Ms Stovall said.

  7. Psychiatrist—“You never knew you could be a psychiatrist without a license, did you?” asked Ms Stovall. And yet, in the frantic world of medicine, where emotions run high, it’s often the manager who’s tasked to play the role of counselor—with or without the educational training. “Sometimes tragedies happen,” said Ms Stovall, “and it’s up to us to encourage our staff.”

  8. Crybaby—The constant barrage of new protocols and acronyms to decipher—QRS, VM, EHR-MU, MACRA, MIPS, etc—can be stressful to say the least. While it’s easy to reminisce about a simpler past, nostalgia’s ultimately unproductive. “After we finish crying,” said Ms Stovall, “we suck it up and do what we have to do.”

  9. Psychiatric Patient—Although the practice manager may feel like it sometimes, Ms Stovall reminded the audience that he or she is not, in fact, crazy. “Sometimes you may feel like you’re going to lose it,” she said, “but don’t give up….If you’ve survived all the stuff that’s happened so far, you’re doing well, and you’re going to continue to survive.”

  10. Superman/Superwoman—In the end, given the many roles the office manager is required to perform, it’s superhero that may be the most apt descriptor. “Remember everything that you do every day,” Ms Stovall concluded. “Don’t lose sight of who you are, and don’t forget why you do what you do—for the patients.”
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Last modified: November 3, 2015
  • American Health and Drug Benefits
  • Lynx CME
  • Value Based Care in Rheumatology
  • Oncology Practice Management
  • Urology Practice Management

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