Choosing a Practice – where to work and where to avoid

Practices who are recruiting will always show you their best bits – they’d be mad not to. So, especially when looking to join a partnership, how do you sort the good from the not so good? And if you are a practice trying to recruit, how do you make your practice more attractive?

Who are they?

The single most important thing about a GP partnership is who the other partners are. What are they like? How do they work together? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Don’t get beguiled by fancy numbers or a posh building, these are the people you are going to spend your working life with and you have to get on. Friendship and trust are not optional extras in partnership, they are essential. You need to be pleased to see each other in the morning.

Where are they going?

You need to know their core purpose, what gets them out of bed in the morning. If they haven’t thought much about this that doesn’t make them a bad partnership, but if you dig deeper you will get to their lines in the sand, the things they would or wouldn’t do for their careers, their business and their patients. It is essential that their values align with yours. Agreeing where you are going is mandatory. Disagreeing about how you get there is fine, and if you respect and listen to each other it is usually beneficial.

What are they worrying about?

Every business has things which will kill it. Difficulty recruiting, or staff problems, or premises problems, or debts, or workload. Talking about these is tricky because you are asking them to be vulnerable and it requires them to have the self-confidence to trust you. And you must repay that trust by honestly evaluating how comfy you are with these risks. If you are looking for a perfect practice with no flaws at all then you may as well retrain because it doesn’t exist. How they plan to manage these risks is way more important than the glitzy accounts or buildings that catch your eye to start with.

How do they treat their staff?

The way people treat those they employ shows you their true character. Spend some time in reception and see how it feels. Is there laughter? Is there support? Is there genuine caring? Does the mood change when a partner walks in? How are they with patients? If you are able, sit in on a practice team meeting. What is the atmosphere like? Does everyone get a say? Is there mutual respect? How are decisions made?

Then do the due diligence 

If you do all this and still like them then get the accounts and partnership agreement and talk them through with a partner friend. Find out what other people think about the practice. Look online. There is no way to be certain you will be happy and inevitably new challenges will come that nobody imagined (like in March 2020), but if you are in a good team and respect and listen to each other you will have a great time in General Practice.

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