New Physician Orientation – “You Know the Ship; They Don’t”

captain phillipsBy: Allison McCarthy, MBA

“Remember, you know the ship; they don’t.”  That one line from the movie Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, jumped out at me.  For those who haven’t seen it, the film recounts the harrowing story of the Maersk Alabama, the cargo ship that was hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. While the pirates (newcomers to the ship who arrived by motorboat) can hardly be compared to new physicians coming onboard, that quote emphasizes an important point: The advantage goes to those who know the ship.

Too often, new physicians tell me they feel like they’re at a “disadvantage.”  That’s because they don’t know the ship. While many have attended new employee orientations, most new physicians say they need more specific and relevant information to get up to speed. Unfortunately, they (like those pirates) don’t know the ropes well enough to take charge.

Clearly, new physicians need more than a general orientation or a hospital tour to perform well. And while it’s out there, they don’t have time to read the ship’s entire manual.  The best way to ensure your new physicians get the information they need — when they need it — is to make it available in more manageable chunks.  It makes sense, then, to look at new ways of presenting existing information. For example, consider developing:

  • Ÿ    A series of intranet You-Tube-style videos that physicians can access before they start or when they encounter a challenge.
  • Ÿ    A set of visually rich INFOGRAPHICS that provide “quick hits” of information.
  • Ÿ    Small group sessions that introduce information in the right context and build collegial peer relationships.

Now is the time when physicians’ onboarding is at its peak.  As newcomers clamor aboard, “Remember, you know the ship; they don’t.”  To set them up for success, share with them everything they need to learn the ropes. By better supporting your new recruits, you can more quickly build a trusted crew.

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  1. Becky Trevino

    Do you have sample of You-Tube type videos you can share or suggest? I think this is a great idea, a virtual navigation through the hospital targeted for specific specialty areas.
    Where would these reside? Perhaps in a pasword protect Physcian page on the hospital website?

    1. Allison McCarthy

      Hi Becky – I also think these could be a real help. I wonder if your HR team does anything like this for other employees? I think they would likely reside on the organization’s intranet – maybe on a special section for physicians. Does your organization offer that for general employee information? Could be another section just adapted for physicians. Maybe someone else will comment and offer a sample for you.