By Rachel Stein / rachels83@gmail.com

Rachel Stein

Rachel Stein

Building a pediatric practice within the community engenders a mixed bag of emotions: breathless excitement, hopeful anticipation and unbridled joy alongside concern and confusion. Dr. Schwartz’s hiring dilemma was aired two weeks ago, and he received two intriguing responses.

Dear Dr. Schwartz:

What price tag can you put on experience? OK, Dr. Schwartz, I’ll admit it: Your dilemma left me reeling. Heaven sent you the answer to your prayers on a silver platter, and you’re seesawing in uncertainty? What is there to ponder?

A mature, responsible secretary who has been on the job for decades comes your way, and you hesitate to take the plunge? Why?

Yes, you will have to pay a higher salary commensurate with her qualifications. But the investment will surely reap untold dividends.

Would you purchase an old car with a faulty transmission because the asking price is low? Presumably you would opt not to spend the better part of the next few years visiting mechanics and would therefore choose to invest in a newer model that is in top-notch condition. How is your hiring dilemma any different?

With Lori, the long-term investment will be worth your while. When you enter your office in the mornings and leave in the evenings, you will have the security of knowing that everything is in order, managed by capable hands.

Not only will that give you peace of mind, but it will create an atmosphere that families appreciate. Patients will flock to you as your reputation for competence and organization spreads.

I’ve had my share of secretaries come and go over the years, and this Lori sounds like a gift. If you choose not to hire her, can you please send me her résumé?

All the best,

Dan B.

Dear Dr. Schwartz:

Congratulations on opening your new practice! I hope you are soon flooded with patients who will appreciate your dedication to their health and well-being.

After reading your dilemma, I feel strongly that you should give Shelly a chance. My mental Rolodex spins back to a time when I, too, was just starting out and going on frequent job interviews. I can almost feel that knot of tension, picturing my younger self approaching yet another potential boss, desperate and oh so eager to land that coveted position.

Attaining that first job is so challenging, and the frequent rejections are more than disheartening. Yet Shelly deserves a chance; she seems confident, capable and talented. What an asset to be young and malleable, as you said.

While building your practice, you will grow into your unique, professional style while learning the language of your patients and families. Lori already speaks her own language, which will compel you to adapt to her methods. Shelly, on the other hand, will easily conform to your needs and changing expectations.

Regarding technology, while Lori may know the basics, it is an indisputable fact that the younger generation is much more adept at computers than their older counterparts. I am confident that Shelly will be able to vanquish any computer jargon put at her disposal, helping you to navigate the often confusing sea of advancements in industrial science.

There is an additional concern that lurks in the shadows when hiring someone who has worked in one profession for so many years, and that is burnout. As Lori said, she has been doing this work for a lifetime.

Your office needs the enthusiasm and excitement of someone embarking on a fresh start alongside you, not someone who is painting her nails and glancing at the clock every few minutes, already planning for retirement.

And there is the practical issue you raised: Shelly will agree to a lower starting salary, and that can make a substantial difference in your finances. With your many costs and expenditures, it can be quite helpful not to have to pay top dollar for a secretary.

I recommend offering a training session to Shelly for about a week’s duration before you open your doors. Allow her to learn the ins and outs of the office, which patients to prioritize, and when to consult with you vs. when to use her own judgment.

Wishing you all the best at this exciting new juncture,

Randy Goldman

Shaking his head, Dr. Schwartz reaches for his ever-present mug of coffee. Oh, for a secretary who will keep a piping hot mug on my desk within arm’s reach! Both advisers made valid points, and precisely for that reason, it seems the good doctor will have to decide on his own. Heads or tails?

Experience and maturity win, Dr. Schwartz finally decides, and a wave of calm descends on him. Ah, the joy of clarity and knowing your next step!

“Mrs. Boden? This is Dr. Schwartz calling. I am pleased to offer you the position of secretary.”

And now to pen a rejection letter to Shelly. I feel her pain — poor girl. Hopefully she’ll find something worthy of her in the near future. In the meantime, I will try to be as gentle and compassionate as possible, assuring her that I saw many positive qualities and wishing her the best of luck in her future endeavors.