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Business growth and increasing patient volume can necessitate the naming of an urgent care clinic manager or supervisor on staff. Often times the vagaries of this job are not well-defined, merely the need that the business has now grown and someone must oversee a few key functions that the owner-operator simply doesn’t have the time or resources to mind on a daily or sometimes hourly basis.

First and foremost, there is the issue of patient flow. Many new startups don’t have practices in place to manage daily fluctuations.

Then there might be issues in handling staff. Whether it’s dealing with personality quirks or training insufficiencies of their reports, the clinic manager generally has these tasks thrown into their job description.

And dare we overlook the glamorous tasks such as supply ordering and oversight of clinic repairs? In many cases, the clinic manager is ultimately responsible for making sure the nuts and bolts necessary for operations are all in place and functioning properly.

So the question becomes who is the best candidate for this role? Do you promote from within or seek from outside? Is the candidate someone with medical knowledge or more business oriented?

And the answer?

None of that matters if the person you place in that position does not possess good CRITICAL THINKING skills. What do I mean by that? Here’s an example. I own a beautiful Labrador retriever handsome, shiny coat, AKC papers, great with the kids but never in a million years will that dog ever hunt. As a matter of fact, she won’t even fetch a tennis ball, won’t play tug with the kids, and pretty much won’t chase anything other than a treat if it means getting off the floor. She’s a great family dog and I love her to pieces, but there are some things you just can’t teach not that we haven’t tried. Before her, we had another lab, again, a beautiful dog, great family pet, and although we never spent a dime on training, Shadow instinctively pointed, heeled, retrieved anything you threw and tracked birds like she had a personal grievance against anything with feathers and wings.

Such is the case with some staff. You know the ones. Some employees have a knack for seeing the problem and formulating the best possible solutions. Better still, they can even anticipate the potential problem before it occurs and take measures to prevent or minimize the damage. Critical thinking means that these folks are going to approach a situation and analyze the data presented, perhaps gather more and at the very least determine a game plan before they start pushing the panic button.

Picking the wrong person for this position is a little like taking my current dog hunting. She’ll look really pretty standing out in a field, but she’ll never bring back a bird. Some folks, no matter how many letters are behind their name or how well they can start an i.v., simply lack the ability to think beyond the problem in front of them. You can’t teach this skill, you might try to give them rules, policies and procedures, but they’ll never think outside of the proverbial box.

We’ve all had the employee who runs to us with a problem only to dump it in our lap like so much garbage ready to haul out to the curb. This is not the person you want for your clinic supervisor or manager not unless you enjoy early morning calls or late night emergencies. Worse still, this is the person who’s going to incessantly pester you while on vacation with every little detail of clinic happenings just to “make sure you approve. This is not a manager, this is a robot.

Don’t be mistaken, critical thinking is not synonymous with autonomy or usurping your authority as owner of the urgent care. But it does empower the clinic manager to foresee and take steps to prevent problems and ultimately allow you to concentrate on more strategic planning and operational needs.

So how do you find this person? Challenge them with smaller projects. Encourage growth in staff that exhibit these skills. Don’t be afraid to let people make mistakes and turn the mistakes into learning experiences when they occur.

Developing your staff not only pays off in long-term loyalty, but in this instance may provide your organization with an employee that contributes to the overall success and patient satisfaction through daily leadership. Employ your own critical thinking skills by selecting the best and brightest and develop them along with your business.

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