Getting What You Deserve After Residency Graduation

Patrick DeHeer DPM FACFAS

This July, podiatric residency graduates are transitioning from comfort and protection into the world of student loans, angry patients, indifferent staff, long hours, mountains of paperwork, unjust malpractice laws, malicious malpractice attorneys and insatiable insurance companies. I wish to offer them a collective piece of advice:

Do not listen to the naysayers.

There are many who will tell you that you cannot survive in today’s healthcare system. Do not believe them. In my opinion, the demise of the solo practitioner or small group practice is greatly overblown. If you want to be an employee and have little say over your future, by all means sign your contract and settle into a typical career. If the entrepreneurial spirit lies within, I will offer a few thoughts.

My involvement with this blog began at its inception and I have not yet read a solitary piece broaching the subject of money. Podiatrists are highly educated, specialty-trained and equipped with a relevant skill set. They deserve to be paid accordingly and should not settle for less than they earn. They must value their own time accordingly. Through the years, doctors making an income commensurate with their education, responsibility level and skill set have become judged and condemned. Physicians’ compensation is not to blame for the demise of the American healthcare system.

I will offer a couple of very valuable concepts that you must embrace in order to truly realize your potential. The take-away message in Wallace Wattles’ classic text, The Science of Getting Rich, is crucial to wealth accumulation. The primary theme is the comparison between the competitive versus the creative mindset. A person with a competitive mindset believes there is only a limited amount of money in the world and that all are competing for it. People with competitive mindsets believe any respective individual earning money decreases the pot for all others. True financial freedom will never exist for an individual possessing these beliefs.

Those with a creative mindset, however, understand that there is an unlimited supply of money. No one can place any boundaries to interfere with his or her ability to accumulate wealth. The clearest applicable analogy related to this concept is that of the podiatrist’s perception of the universal patient population. There are roughly 16,000 podiatrists in the United States alone and an estimated general population of 312,800,000 people. There are plenty of feet to go around. Initially, an ambitious podiatrist’s strategy should be to apply a creative mindset to attract patients.

Once podiatrists draw new patients into the office, the absolute most essential element of success in existence becomes the art of client retention, a concept quite simple in theory yet often elusive in application. That is why so many businesses fail every day. The key is to give more in value to the customer/client/patient than he or she pays you in return. You must constantly examine how you can provide more in value to your patients than they compensate.

The following questions will help you evaluate the value you are providing to your patients.

• What does your waiting room look like? Is your office spotless?
• How does your staff interact with your patients? Do members of your team treat your patients like family or as a nuisance?
• Is your office technologically up to date?
• What are your wait times? Do your patients have immediate access?

Like the old saying about real estate and location, for our profession, it’s service, service, service. The importance of practicing with ethics having the utmost priority is a foregone conclusion. Using every possible resource to remain knowledgeable about your profession is paramount and keeping one’s skill set at the highest level possible is also crucial.

The final element I want to cover that is also essential for success is something I have learned from two sources in particular. In Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles, the very first chapter is titled “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.” My coaching mentor Jay Geier from the Scheduling Institute puts it more emphatically by saying, “You get what you deserve.” Everything you have or have not done up to this point has led to where you are today. Physicians must believe, apply and accept this mantra because they adopt it. Physicians must look at success as something thoroughly attainable, something that lies in their realm of responsibilities.

You determine the number of patients you see every day. You determine your thriving or stagnant practice, your gross collections and your income. If you are happy with the way things are, congratulations. If not, you have the power to create the practice you want.

I wish each of you the career in podiatric medicine you deserve. Do not let anyone determine your future but yourself. You have chosen a great profession. You are able to help people every day by easing their pain while having the opportunity to be paid accordingly. Best wishes and stay diligent.

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