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Career Story: Practice Manager For A Doctors' Office

Practice Manager For A Doctors' Office

Job Title: Hospital Practice Manager

Type of Company: I work for a large academic medical center in Boston.

Education: BA, History, New York University •• MS, Information Management, Marymount University

Previous Experience: I started in higher education working as an office administrator and moved to grants management (mostly finance work) after getting my masters. A research management position with a physician led to my jump to hospital practice management, which is mostly finance work as well.

Job Tasks: As a practice manager, I am responsible for the business aspects of running a hospital-based physicians' practice. My responsibilities include budgeting, financial analysis (forecasting revenue and expenses), scheduling, planning for new specialty practice areas, patient billing and supervision of staff.

A typical day can include preparing the physician schedule for 22 doctors for the following week using scheduling software and sometimes negotiations with doctors over time-off requests. I also field telephone calls from patients regarding billing problems which I then follow up on with the billing office, the billing service or doctor and financial services if the bill needs to be updated. Some days I have to attend multiple meetings regarding hospital operations, business planning, updating my staff or meeting with the department Chair. Another daily task is running reports from various hospital computer systems on physician productivity, department volume, billing or other areas of interest to the Chair or the department in general. A good part of my day is spent working in Excel preparing spreadsheets for budgets or doing analysis of a particular service or specialty. I need many types of financial analysis to help me decide if new business opportunities are a good risk for the practice.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Working in a busy hospital means there can be a wide variety of tasks from day-to-day, which is one of the reasons I enjoy the job. In addition to the variety, I also enjoy the fast-paced environment and the inevitable multi-tasking that comes with that. The very best part of the job is my co-workers. There is something about the type of people who are attracted to working in hospitals: they are extremely nurturing and caring and, above all, take their jobs very seriously since they are dealing with people's health issues.

The downside is that it's sometimes hard to focus on a task for an extended period of time, as there is always so much going on around you.

Job Tips:
1. Study business administration at the undergraduate level, and take courses on hospital finance or administration if they are offered.

2. Hospitals are a good place to be during a recession. With our aging population health care needs are on the rise.

3. Volunteer at your local hospital to network and meet practice managers, as networking is the best way to get a job.

Additional Thoughts: I never thought I would work in a hospital. I didn't think that with my higher education background I was even qualified. I found my current job, which I love, through informational interviews that I set up just to find out more about the industry. There are many jobs at hospitals, such as in finance and administration, that do not require clinical training or expertise. You may have skills from current or previous work experience that are easily transferable to a hospital environment.

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