Graduates can have a great deal of anxiety when they start in private practice and rightly so.
60 % have not had a private practice placement or even been in a private practice prior to starting on Day 1.
In our own business this year, we only have two graduates starting with us on a staggered start and we have had a busy start to the year, which has meant one of these graduates have had to see patients starting on Day 3.
We orientated for 2 days and then she was straight into it seeing clients. At first, she was a little nervous, but at the end of the week this graduate said that it was the best thing to get in and start seeing patients straight away, it was like ripping the band aid off.
Some business owners try to orientate and train as much as possible in the first week without their graduates seeing patients and in my experience, the longer you hold them back from seeing patients the worse the fear becomes.
We make it easy for our graduates to feel comfortable with patients by giving them the luxury of time with their clients of 1 hour rather than the usual 30 mins. This allows them to settle in and focus on the client.
You can not train all of the gaps in clinical and non clinical skills quickly with a graduate. It is a process of 6 - 12 months of consistency, feedback, resources and mentoring. To hold a graduate back until you feel they have closed all of these gaps, you will be waiting for 2 years.
I am a strong believer in giving your graduate autonomy in the early weeks of starting in private practice. This means not going into the room with them and their patients. This just undermines the relationship the graduate is trying to build with a patient. I also encourage graduates to complete a subjective and objective and come to me for mentoring after this to discuss potential diagnosis and treatment pathways. If they are confident with all of this I prefer them to go ahead and we catch up afterwards to have a caseload discussion.
I don't like having a graduate come to me after each section, subjective, objective etc, just because that is what they did on placement as a student.
Having mentored many different graduates and trialled many techniques. I have found that these strategies make for a resilient graduate that copes in private practice much faster then those that you spoon feed and protect.
Yes there will be graduates that this model will not work for and you will have to support them closely for success, but this should be evident in the interview process. Fearful, under confident and scared are all normal reactions to anything new, but you have to get started somewhere. There is a first time for everything and once you get past that first patient, it will get easier.