Folks at Pickett Road will readily attest to the fact that I am not a big huddle guy. Despite the best efforts of our leadership team to make huddles interesting, relevant, and timely, I always seem to have other items to attend to around the same time as our group huddle. Recently though, I have been experimenting with a different type of huddle and I sense that I might need to modulate my huddle bias.
Recently, some scheduling challenges have led to my working with two learners at a time during the same clinic session. It turns out that huddling with these learners before clinic starts makes a very big difference in how the session transpires.
I have always tried to be selective about assigning certain patients to learners as I try to find patients who enjoy students, and who are thoughtful and engaging. Looking ahead at the schedule lets the students see what is coming their way, and they can then plan accordingly.
Sometimes they will read about a patient’s recent medical history. Other times, they might scan a review article in UpToDate. I think that conferring with the students ahead of time, and including my medical assistant allows all of us to create a gameplan, and this organization has helped me to run (somewhat) on time.
An additional step that I try to take during this educational huddle is that I try to prep the student for a particular upcoming visit. This is called “priming” and I find it to be invaluable. When I do this, I mainly try to help the learner focus on the goals of the visit- what items are we going to address, what problems will we explore, what labs or tests or injections need to be updated? Priming the students in advance ensures that the visit will be a successful one, and almost always helps the learners focus their energy on the most important tasks at hand.
Also, when conferring with learners and staff, I try to share something that is personal and specific for the patients they will be seeing. When I do this, I also want to role model a most respectful manner, and I try very hard not to say or share anything that might be interpreted as negative or judgmental about the patients.
One last advantage of having an educational huddle- it conveys to all concerned that we are going to try very hard to run on time and stay on time. Also, if learners arrive late, I view that as a red flag. Of course, occasionally, a learner might have to drive across town or to Raleigh through traffic and that can cause delays- but learners who repeatedly show up late require some further discussion, as heeding clinic work hours is one of the many milestone measures that can be used to evaluate a student’s level of professionalism.
So, try huddling with your learners and staff- I think you might find that in the long run, it is an easy method for running an efficient and effective office team.