Creating success with attentive care and a dynamic management style.
CS: What do you feel is important as you look to the immediate future?
CP: Internally, I want the staff to better themselves. The board of trustees has created an educational trust fund for any staff member who wants to further themselves in the practice without having to pay that money back. Of course, the person must be in good standing with the practice. Our external goal is to grow into the surrounding areas like Stafford, Culpepper and King George while making sure our quality is still No. 1. We’ve talked about having satellite offices and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in different regions of Virginia.
CL: The practice has been very entrepreneurial and takes intelligent risks, and I think that positions us for long-term success. We have added ancillary services and anesthesia, for example. When you read articles that say, “private practice is a thing of the past,” and “you can’t survive on your own”—I don’t believe that’s true. If you make smart decisions and do what you do well, you can survive in private practice, especially if you enter strategic partnerships.
FD: To date, GAF has accomplished all of our growth within a single facility, which is on the campus of Mary Washington Hospital. This allows us to be very efficient in providing hospital coverage as well as performing office procedures. As we continue to grow, we will need to explore the possibility of and challenges to expanding into the surrounding community.
It is important to keep up to date with the latest developments in GI and give patients the service they are looking for. I now use a scribe to help document office visits in the EMR so I can focus on listening to the patient’s concerns and maintaining eye contact to reassure the patient. If the patient needs a timely procedure and our schedules are full, we give the patient the option to get it done as soon as possible with the first available provider. GAF has worked hard to achieve this level of service for the community of Fredericksburg, which allows patients to feel comfortable getting their care locally and only being referred to tertiary hospitals on rare occasions.
CP: We are a very dynamic practice. Our practice has younger physicians; most are in their 30s and 40s. Lifestyle is a priority for the providers—we don’t mandate a specific schedule for them. We can accommodate someone who needs a part-time position, either temporarily or permanently, or someone who prefers to work three, four or all five days per week. We want to make sure that our doctors don’t get burned out so they can provide the best patient care.
CS: What is the secret sauce to the practice’s success in attracting new physicians and providers?
CL: One of our barriers to recruitment is geography. Many physicians want to be closer to D.C. or another big city, so attracting great physicians to Fredericksburg can be difficult. But once we engage with a candidate, I think they enjoy the collegiality and humor that becomes evident during the interview process. Plus, our stability and success are draws, as is our size. With eight physicians and strong midlevel provider support, we are large enough that call is not overly burdensome, and we are small enough that we all see one another every day. The fact that we offer a pretty short track to partnership has also been a strong selling point to most of the physicians who have joined our group in the past several years. The latest physicians to make partner were able to do so within a year of coming on board. And unlike some other practices, the requirements for partner eligibility are very transparent and don’t change once you are on the track. This practice is the most cohesive group of physicians I’ve ever worked with—they are cordial, collegial and respectful.
FD: Dr. Spivey set the culture of having a “can-do” attitude from an early stage, so we always try to look for solutions instead of just bringing up problems. We have heard of other practices that have a tier system, where associates aren’t allowed to be in meetings with the partners. I think that having mutual respect, positive attitude and professionalism, where you are trying to be inclusive and provide free expression of ideas, is essential.
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