Headaches arise when expectations don’t match

A common theme to problems faced by training practices stems from failing to determine at the interview if the registrar and practice are on the same page.

Some interviewers will only find out about the interviewee, and fail to explain the practice’s values and expectations; this initial lack of clarity can be the catalyst for disgruntlement and problems during the training term.

GPSA occasionally receives calls from practice managers about misunderstandings from registrars which could have been avoided if practice expectations and values had been explained at the interview.

One example is a registrar misinterpreting the wording of their contract which stated “You will work no less than two Friday nights per month”. Unfortunately, this registrar interpreted this to mean ‘working two Friday nights a month’ – rather than ‘two Fridays were a minimum’ – so when he received his first roster with four Friday night shifts he complained.

This is why GPSA recommends interviewers show, and explain, a draft version of the contract and a sample roster at the interview to ensure a clear understanding of expectations before a contract is offered and signed.

Interview tip: Tell the registrar about your practice

Often there is a good reason why a certain policy, rostering and patient booking approach etc are in place. Every practice is different, but your policies and your rosters reflect the realities of the practice.

It is not the role of the practice to bend itself to the needs of a registrar, but it is good practice to ensure prospective employees (registrars) are aware of the particular practice environment they are signing up for before they accept a start date and sign the contract.

GPSA CEO Glen Wallace said a registrar may be entering into general practice for the first time and not know what to expect, but equally they may have only worked in a practice that didn’t do after hours on-call work, or didn’t operate from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, so sometimes a registrar doesn’t know to ask specifics about the conditions. Both parties can assume knowledge and assume shared meaning when in fact you both have quite different expectations.

“It’s these misunderstood expectations that bring practice and registrar relationships undone in the end,” Mr Wallace said.

Eastern Victoria General Practice Training (EVGPT) accreditation and practice support co-ordinator Dr Heather Grusauskas agrees a two-way conversation is most desirable to occur at the interview.

She said while interviewers needed to find out about the registrar, interviewers should also give a clear picture about how the practice and supervision operated.

“It depends on what experience the registrar wants from the practice; and what we want is a match where the registrar and practice enjoy mutual benefits,” Dr Grusauskas said.

“Issues can arise when both parties have different expectations. At interview, the registrar can get a feel for your individual practice and vice versa, and it might be that you are not a good match.”

Dr Grusauskas cautioned practice managers and supervisors conducting interviews not to assume the registrar had adequately researched the practice before their interview.

“When applying for a new job, most of us would do our homework before a job interview and find out how the business functions to get a feel for if it will be a good fit.”

“However you can’t simply assume the registrar has done their due diligence.”

Dr Grusauskas urged interviewers to talk to the registrar about the practice because the experience the registrar is seeking may not necessarily match what the practice could offer.

“You need to tell the registrar about your practice background, patient demographics, and how the practice works because each practice and registrar is uniquely different.

Dr Grusauskas said interviewers should remember every registrar had unique backgrounds, experiences and expectations – and every practice was unique; so it was vital to be clear in the interview about your working environment.

“Explain the rostered hours fully,” she said. “You need to be clear if your practice has a weekend roster, if it is a nine-to-five clinic or whether it is an after-hours clinic. All this needs to be a part of the employment conversation.”

Interview tip: Team effort

Dr Grusauskas said that ideally, more than one person should be involved in interviewing the registrar to help determine if the candidate and practice are a good fit.

“”It varies from practice to practice, but it’s advisable to have a mix of people doing the interview, such as the practice manager and supervisor because you are both going to be working with the registrar.”