When is it time to terminate the employment of a staff member?

Physicians have the daunting task of not only being exemplary in their field, but also running a business at the same time. One of the worst things they have to deal with is having to fire someone from within their staff. Sometimes they hold out year after year and sometimes it’s because the doctor can’t work up the courage to let them go. But there are four reasons why they should.

1. Patients deserve better

2. Coworkers deserve better.

3. Practice deserves better

4. YOU deserve better

An office with a bad apple is not good for the rest of the staff. It creates low productivity in the office, problems within the office and problems between the office staff and makes the work environment suffer. It’s interesting when that person is on vacation or has called in sick, the office seems to be at peace and functions better. You wouldn’t want to lose your best employees to a bad one. That is a sign that this person needs to leave.

If employees are caught in a serious violation of a policy or have endangered a patient or co-worker, the best time to fire them is when all the facts have been accumulated and verified. It should not persist for weeks or even days. It is best to handle the situation as soon as possible. When someone has been fired, they must leave immediately. You never want to fire someone and then tell them we’d like you to wrap up the week. That could cause another set of problems. What do they have to lose at that moment? It is unknown what they might do to retaliate.

Another suggestion is to fire the person during the week and not on a Friday because they will have the weekend to think about their condition. By doing it during the week, this gives the person an immediate incentive to look for another position.

The termination must be carried out in private and with the presence of another staff member. This is very important, especially if the doctor and staff member are of the opposite sex. The process should be short and direct. Make it clear that you are determined and that there is no room for negotiations. There’s no need to mention everything the person has done or not done because you don’t want to get into an argument.

Document the meeting and keep it in the employee file. It is always good to keep good records from the start of a person’s employment and it is also good to have a performance review from time to time that can also be documented and placed in the employee file.

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