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Interview with a Hiring Manager - How to Succeed in a Medical Office Environment

By Andrea Santiago,,

A former nurse, and current manager of a busy pediatric medical office discusses the environment, the staff, what she looks for in an interview, and what people can do to succeed in this hectic environment.

Tell me about the practice you manage.
We are a very busy pediatrics office with 10 physicians and 3 office locations in the metro area. We see kids up to 18 years of age but most are much younger. We are in a small manufacturing/industrial town which has a lot of migrant workers and uninsured patients.

What type of positions are you responsible for hiring?
I hire all types of nurses and midlevels. We are able to see more patients with Nurse Practitioners on staff. Also I hire a lot of CMA's (certified medical assistants), medical receptionists, medical interpreters.

What is a typical day like for an office worker here?
It's very very fast-paced. We are not here to play! You will typically see a waiting room full of patients including many who don't speak English. We have a large Hispanic population here so dealing with people of other cultures is important. Also, they are scared or tense because their baby might be sick. So you have to be able to move fast, but also be sensitive to what these parents are dealing with. The phone is also ringing off the hook so people typically have to multi-task.

What are the hours here on average?
We have a couple different shifts. It's usually about 8-5 or 9-6, Monday through Friday. Everyone rotates the 10-7 shift for equality. We are also open on weekends, so we rotate a weekend shift, and usually each employee works about one weekend per month when we're fully staffed.

What do you look for when you're interviewing someone to work in your office?
Well I can tell a lot by their previous work experience. If they have moved around [changed jobs] a lot, I want to know why, and did they leave on good terms? And I will check those references to make sure the stories match! Also I look for an energy level; they can't be half asleep and work in this place! I will ask them questions about how they've handled difficult situations in the past, and see what examples they can give me.

I've done this long enough to where I can sort of pick up on things just by how confidently they answer the questions, whether or not they make eye contact – things like that tell me a lot about the person and if they're the “real deal”. They can't have any background issues either - criminal or financial. We deal with sensitive patient information and financial information, so it's a must that a potential employee has kept their nose clean, so to speak.

What qualities do your most successful employees have?
They're efficient. They can talk to the patients and make them feel comfortable while giving them important information. Also, they aren't too easily distracted. There are screaming kids, and stressed out moms all around sometimes, and you just have to stay focused. And our employees can't be high-maintenance or high-drama – we don't have time for that either. They need to be pretty self-sufficient but also know when to ask for help. Also being task-oriented, not getting caught up in the gossip and extraneous stuff is key.

What advice would you give to others who are seeking a career in Healthcare?
Well I guess just be honest with others and yourself. Being on time is very important because that can slow down the entire operation in a medical office. Be on time, be honest, do your best, and the rest will fall into place. Even if you don't like your job, do it well until you find something else. I loved nursing, but I got burnt out on it. I was good at it and kept going, and got promoted into management and here I am today. Management is not for everyone, but I love it….for now!

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