Chances are that at no point in your medical training did you learn how to handle some of the issues that consume you now: How to navigate electronic health records, deal with insurance companies, adhere to federal health care regulations, read a contract, abide by employment law. Even though medical practices are businesses, most of the people in charge of managing them have had little to no business training.
Residents and fellows at the University of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York got at least an overview of these issues when they attended a special, one-day "Understanding the Business of Medicine" conference this winter.
Experts including attorneys specializing in employment and contract law, and compliance officers from health care systems, helped young doctors understand the non-medical issues that would face them in their professional lives. Lawrence C. Ross, a contract law specialist, spent an hour telling the residents and fellows what to look for in the contracts they will sign with future employers. His advice: If you're not comfortable with the terms, don't accept the offer. "You have to remember that you are a valuable commodity," he said.
At least one veteran doc involved with the conference wished there had been something similar when she was just starting out. "Basically, I did everything wrong when I started," said Iris R. Danziger, MD, clinical assistant professor in UB's department of otolaryngology and one of the conference organizers. But now, thanks to the conference she spearheaded, maybe the young docs she helps train will get some of it right.