Resolutions can feel helpful when kicking off the new year; they often provide a sense of purpose and can help us pin down our goals. But they can also be a lot of pressure. And the truth is, most people don’t stick with their New Year’s resolutions more than three months after they’ve been set.
But what if the pressure of resolutions could be replaced with the growth potential of priorities? And instead of focusing on a single, measurable result, the focus was establishing a more permanent mental framework that enables you to be the person and provider you want to become?
As you head into the coming year, it might help to spend less time stressing (and eventually forgetting) about these resolutions, and more time establishing priorities that withstand 2022 and beyond.
Prioritize your awareness of legislation and policies
There are constant changes in the world of health care. But this has been especially true over the past two years as adjustments have been made to provide COVID-19 relief for providers and their patients.
Prioritize staying up to date on new policies that may affect how you practice. New pieces of legislation, such as the No Surprises Act taking effect January 1, are important to know so you can remain well informed. You never know when a patient will inquire about changes that impact what they can expect under your care.
Prioritize relationships within your organization
In the past year, have your relationships with colleagues and superiors within your organization been challenged, strengthened or remained the same? This is important for a few reasons.
First, a more cohesive team is usually going to be more focused and productive, and positive interactions with peers benefit the culture and make work life more enjoyable. Additionally, research supports that healthy relationships with fellow physicians and advanced practitioners result in higher quality of care and better patient outcomes.
Commit to nurturing these relationships – whether it’s asking a peer’s advice on a patient’s treatment or simple small talk throughout the day. You’ll notice the impact it has on your attitude, your organization and your patients.
Prioritize building your presence online
As online presence becomes more and more important, you want to set yourself apart as a provider who is passionate about practicing and making a positive impact in health care. Plus, patients want to get to know you, and giving them this option establishes trust.
First, review and scrub the information that’s already out there to ensure it’s updated and reflects your personability and expertise. Then, find opportunities to distinguish your voice.
You can participate in conversations on Twitter or LinkedIn with patients or other physicians, recycle interesting or helpful resources or even share a feel-good story or moment you had that day. Just be mindful that you’re not disclosing private details about a patient or your organization.
Prioritize your telehealth experience
The pandemic has proven each of us adaptable, and as travel and in-person interactions became more limited, virtual solutions evolved – in health care, too. Telehealth has been more utilized than ever by patients, and because it’s a more immediate and convenient method for some to receive care, it’s likely here to stay.
If you haven’t already, continue growing your comfortability when providing treatment in a virtual format. Assess your bedside manner and how you can improve it when you’re not physically in the room with patients. If you don’t know where to start, ask for advice from others who are more experienced in offering this type of care.
Prioritize your communication skills
When you think about the way you interact with patients, peers and superiors, do you take the time to clearly convey your intended message, or is there usually confusion that follows?
How you communicate is important, and it has an impact on your work life, including dynamics with those you work with and those you work to heal. Likewise, a large part of communication is listening.
Do your best to remain attentive and tuned in to what others are saying. Not only is it key to being an effective provider, employee and colleague, but it’s also important for avoiding mistakes, improving doctor-patient relationships and providing quality treatment.
Prioritize your patients’ experience
Prioritizing the patient experience falls in line with strengthening your communication skills – because how patients reflect on their experience with you is a direct result of how heard, seen and understood they feel.
Remember to be intentional during these usually fast-paced interactions. Slow down, empathize, listen and offer the bedside manner you would expect from your provider. While each visit with a patient is one small blip in your busy day, your time means everything to them.
Prioritize your work-life balance
You probably preach self-care to your patients, but what about you? To help curb issues like physician burnout, it’s essential to prioritize the work-life balance you need to be successful. This can be top of mind throughout your job search and when negotiating details of your contract, such as the call schedule.
It can also be a conversation you initiate on an as-needed basis with your employer or immediate supervisor. They can help navigate solutions for you to recharge so you can remain healthy and focused as you encourage your patients to do the same.