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Why you should take your staff to the movies


Clinic life really can be summed up quite nicely using famous movie quotes.

Take Home

Clinic life really can be summed up quite nicely using famous movie quotes.


By Dianna Graves, COMT

It is a truly sad statement that most managers cannot shut work off when we the leave the office. It is always there in the recesses of our subconscious. We see subliminal messages on billboards as we are driving, hidden messages in beer commercials while we are watching sports, and underlying subtext while watching a Pee Wee football game when the coach starts giving his famous Knute Rockne speech to the 7-year-old players to help define their game day experience. Everyone else in the stands is just happy that the players have their team shirts on the right way!

Even during times of relaxation, as you are diving into the popcorn at the movies, work is there when the lead character utters a line, and your brain goes, “That’s what is happening in our clinic!”

More in this issue: OWL grows, evolves with renewed focus for 2015

This caused me to think of famous movie lines and their correlation to everyday clinic life. I soon found the similarities were humorously remarkable.

So…without further ado, settle in, grab the popcorn, and let’s go to the movies that have become our life.

“Show me the money”

Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Jerry McGuire”

It is a fact-your staff equates their value, their importance in your clinic and their worth to others, by what you pay them.

You can see this in their demeanor during their review.


During the review, they sit in their chair erect, “cat on a hot tin roof,” at the very edge of their chair, listening to every word you say. Not for the praise, but for the money. They are not taking to heart your praise or criticism. They have a drum roll of anticipation in their brain as you build up to their increase. If they feel it is inadequate, their shoulders will slump, and they grow quiet and less animated. It is all about the “kwan.”

“Houston, I think we have a problem”

Tom Hanks in “Apollo 13”

The more dependent on our computer systems we are for everything in our medical lives, the more I realize how little we know about memory, BITS, HL-7 interfaces, upgrades and the like. When your system bogs down, begins to glitch, refuses to ramp up, or just won’t talk to the other parts of your practice management system, it doesn’t matter that all the computer gurus at your disposal are working on it.

Similar to the astronauts in “Apollo 13,” Mission Control may have been on it, seeking a fix for their precarious situation, but it was the astronauts in i” (the hot seat) and risking their lives miles above Earth.

You might think your computer system going down, or just being horribly slow, is not a dire situation for you as a manager. I would hazard to say you are wrong.

If you can’t get the systems to work, you are very much on the hot seat, circling your own little clinical Earth, praying that when you re-enter the atmosphere of the medical world inner space, that your parachute will open and you won’t burn up on re-entry. We have all been there-praying to survive another day of computer chaos.


“What we have here is a failure to communicate”

Strother Martin in “Cool Hand Luke”

When I am teaching continuing education classes throughout the country, there is a resounding theme that attendees share with me: my boss won’t listen, I can’t talk to my boss, my boss has a favorite and I am not it!

You have got to find a way to communicate with each and every one of your staff. There needs to be a constant, low level intertia present so that your staff does not question for a second that if they have a problem or concern, they can come to you and discuss this with you, and that you will listen to them.

I have learned through the years, that in most cases when staff comes in for a chat, they very often will acknowledge that they know that I either can’t change something or the system will not allow for me to make that change. But they still want to talk about it, and they want to be heard.

Many managers will tell me that their staff knows that you are always available for them to come to your office and sit and visit, but this isn’t what they want.

They want to be able to talk with you in the heat of the moment. This means they want to see you in the clinic from time to time. When you are there with them, they will ask you if you have a minute to talk. Your response should always be yes!

Then go into a room with them and listen to what they have to say. It isn’t always pretty. It may be interfering on the schedule you are trying to keep. But they want to vent and it is time well spent to let them do this. If they don’t do it with you, they will vent to anyone that will listen, and this is a set up for an insurrection in the ranks.  


It also offers you the opportunity to set them straight if you do not agree with their issues so that hopefully the topic does not come up again – or continue to fester on a slow boil.

“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”

Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump”

Sally Fields was a visionary and truly wise!

When you are interviewing potential new hires, pay less attention to their listed skills and more to their presentation, eye contact, and their comfort level in the room alone with you.

 Get away from the rote questions: most inspirational person they have followed, what they feel are their weaknesses, and what they would like to change about themselves. These philosophical questions are standard questions, and therefore the answers are choreographed so you aren’t really getting a good look at them as a person, just an actor.

Tell them what the job is, the expectation, the commitment to their education on their side and yours, and then watch their responses.

Be willing to try a piece of chocolate candy that you might not usually choose. It’s ok if they are a little edgy, or if they have a timeline for their growth that you feel is a little advanced for their skills. At least they have a plan and a goal! They could turn out to be a diamond in the rough.


If they turn out to be a hidden serial killer, cut the relationship immediately. There is no rehab plan available. That’s why it is called probation. It is a trial period, not a certainty. We tend to hang onto trouble staff too long, and then we often have a hard time getting them out of the practice for one reason or the other.

And then lastly, the final movie!

“Hasta la vista, baby”

Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

When I am orientating a new staff member, we discuss their introductory period. It goes a little like this:

“You will have an introductory period where you and I can determine if this is a good fit for the both us. During that time, we will be working with you to help you develop your skills, help you with the computer and teach you who the doctors and the other staff are. It is also a time for you, and us, to determine if this is a relationship we wish to continue down the line. “

To be honest, it is usually a month into the introductory period that you begin to see the true picture. They can be good for 1-2 weeks, but after that the issues will begin to occur: late to clinic, increased time out of the clinic for illnesses or appointments, poor team work while you are trying to integrate them into your system.

You need to turn them around at this point very quickly and firmly. If there is no resolution, cut the relationship and send them along their way.


Make sure you have documented your counseling, then stop the employment before time slips away and you are now saddled with a problem employee.

Clinic life is truly a microcosm of movie quotes. If you are attentive to your world, watch and nurture your staff, you should be able be utter the phrase:

“After all, tomorrow is another day” (from “Gone with the Wind”) versus “Fasten your seat beats. It’s gonna be a bumpy night” (“All About Eve”).

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