Creating Job Descriptions

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Creating Job Descriptions


Having a strong, cohesive team of committed professionals can make a pediatric practice incredibly successful and a rewarding place to work. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to attain. Many difficulties can be prevented, however, by developing job descriptions and employment contracts that clearly communicate expectations for each individual.

A job description is essential in providing employees a basic understanding of what is expected of them. These written job descriptions establish lines of authority and define the duties of each position. Pediatric offices typically employ 2 types of staff, front office and back office. Front office staff are generally responsible for managing the business aspect of the practice. Jobs may include a sign-in receptionist, file clerk, bookkeeper, insurance clerk, and sign-out clerk. Back office staff customarily handle the clinical aspects of the practice. Frequently, these are nurses (various levels), medical assistants, and laboratory personnel.​

Although the jobs and responsibilities vary, the job descriptions should be in a similar format. Each job description should include the following sections:

  1. Position and Title—including supervisory responsibilities
  2. Basic Functions—overview of job content and the nature of position
  3. Duties and Responsibilities—major activities associated with the job
  4. Qualifications—education and experience
  5. Principal Working Relations—working alone or with others
  6. Standards of Performance—qualitative and quantitative
  7. Physical Requirements of a job description—physical requirements to perform the job effectively (eg, must be able to stand/sit for X hours, must have adequate vision for viewing computer screen or to be able to use assistance software)
  8. Overview of the work environment—conditions in which the employee will work (eg, office setting, with patients and the public)
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Job descriptions are also instrumental in recruitment, selection of qualified candidates, training, and reducing conflicts. While it is important to adhere to job descriptions, it is also important to be flexible about the basic functions because too much detail inhibits flexibility and creativity. Job descriptions should be evaluated periodically and changed as the conditions and needs of the practice change.

The following is an ex​ample of physical requirements in a job description:​

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Work may require sitting for long periods; also stooping, bending, and stretching for files and supplies, and occasionally lifting files or paper weighing up to 40 pounds. Requires manual dexterity sufficient to operate a keyboard, calculator, telephone, copier, and other such office equipment. Vision must be correctable to 20/20 and hearing must be in the normal range for telephone contacts. It is necessary to view and type on a computer screens for prolonged periods.

The following is an example of work environment:

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Work is performed in an office environment. Involves frequent interaction with staff, patients, and the public.

Any changes in office practice and work flows (eg, adoption of an electronic health record system) call for job description review and possible modification. In general, job descriptions for all staff should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the responsibilities listed within are still appropriate for each staff member's position. Reviewing expectations encourages the employee and manager to develop a comfort zone where job position changes can be easily discussed. By identifying problem areas early on, practices will increase staff satisfaction, improve retention rates for valuable staff, and generally function more efficiently.

Employee and pediatrician salaries and benefits are the largest expense in a pediatric practice. Staff are also your most valuable assets. Employees who are satisfied with their job duties, responsibilities, and position on the office team will in turn help to provide quality pediatric care and generate revenue. When staff are certain that they are receiving fair compensation for a job done well, the job is well done.

Employees with similar job responsibilities should have detailed job descriptions that allow assessment of quality of work and productivity. Everyone in the practice feels that they know who the good employees are, yet often a detailed job description will point differently. Accomplishments that happened early in the year are sometimes forgotten. Quantity of work often shines when jobs are line listed. Job duties that are vague and do not clearly define the work being done allow for personal leanings and unnecessary conflicts. Detailed job descriptions allow employees to be recognized for their successes and compensated adequately for their contribution to quality care and the practice's bottom line.

This information was taken from the following resources: American Academy of Pediatrics. Management of Pediatric Practice. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 1991:47–53

American Academy of Pediatrics. A Guide to Starting a Medical Office. Norcross, GA: Coker Publishing, LLC; 1997:76–86

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