Tips for Your First Day at a New Practice

Melissa Knipp

The first day at a new practice can be both exciting and stressful. Whether you are fresh from training, or are switching to a new practice, you want to start off on the right foot and make a good impression. To help you out with this sometimes pressure-filled first day, here are a few tips on how to make it a success.

Show up early

The rule of thumb for your first day is to show up at least 15 minutes early. It is best to try to account for your commute and any potential traffic hang ups, so you may want to practice a couple times before you make the actual commute to your practice site, especially if you practice in a major metropolitan area.

Showing up early will allow you a little extra time to prepare and conveys respect and organization on your part.

Prepare and ask questions

As a physician, you recognize the value of preparation in creating successful outcomes, whether that be preparing to meet with a patient or preparing for the interview that landed you the position in the first place. The first day of practice is no different than either of these situations, as you will have to manage the expectations of both yourself and those you are meeting for the first time.

Prepare to listen for the most part, but also have specific questions lined up so that you can obtain the necessary information and also seem engaged. As you get acclimated throughout, ask more specific questions, but also leave yourself some room to find out information on your own.

Get your bearings

Connecting the dots between your role and everyone else’s can sometimes be a difficult task. On your first day you will need to get an idea of who the staff members are that you will be relying on throughout your day-to-day practice. Whether it be nurses, medical assistants or fellow physicians, establishing a line of communication from day one will serve you well throughout your career.

Keep in mind that in addition to professional networks, there will be social networks already in place. So be mindful of that as you try to get your bearings.

Know your history

As you meet people at your organization, you will most likely be giving the same information repeatedly about your training history, work history and personal life. It will help immensely if you already have the main points of these topics concisely nailed down before you start with introductions.

Also, be prepared to describe what your role will be at the new practice and if you have any additional training or fellowship experience that you plan utilizing.

Take up lunch offers

A senior physician or colleague may offer to take you to lunch (or at least join them in the cafeteria) on your first day to get a chance to know you better. Take this opportunity to talk more about topics outside of work and get comfortable with those you will be relying on daily. You will find that some work relationships can be drastically improved with a personal connection.

Reach out

In a similar sense, don’t be afraid to take the first step and reach out to introduce yourself. This will show that you are friendly and open to communication with your colleagues and they will feel comfortable approaching you with any problems or concerns. This is not only effective for workflow, but for patient care as well.

Be willing to learn

Most likely you will be on information overload over the course of the first day. That’s okay, as long as you take note of the most important bits of information about your employment and then pick up the rest as you go along. You have been equipped with a great amount of medical knowledge throughout your training and/or previous practice experience, now you just need to know where to plug it in and how to apply it at your new workplace.

Act natural

Just be yourself” is a cliché phrase, but in this case, it really does apply. If you try too hard to project a persona that is different from who you really are, then eventually your natural tendencies will come out anyway as you continue to work. Just try your best throughout the whole introductory process and if everything does not go quite according to plan, it won’t make or break your ability to practice with that employer.

Keep in mind that as a physician, you are in very high demand and your employer has already demonstrated their interest in you by bringing you on.