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Why your medical practice needs job descriptions

Small businesses, including medical practices, often try to get by without formal job descriptions.

The thinking is the manager knows what each position requires, and she or he can share this information with job candidates and new hires. Another argument is that because job tasks tend to change, job descriptions quickly become outdated.

Neither of these arguments takes into account the many ways in which job descriptions can—and should—be used in a medical office environment.


A job description allows you to identify the skills and experience needed for a position.

Referencing the person currently in the position is a mistake. She or he might have skills and experience that exceed the position requirements, particularly if the current staffer has been in the job for any length of time. Or, the current staffer might not meet the job standards.

A well-written job description, on the other hand, establishes standards for the position, and outlines tasks.

This information should be referenced when creating a job ad. It should also be referenced when interviewing job candidates.

A job description allows you to find candidates who are a fit for the position. Without a job description, you are winging it—and winging it rarely leads to good hires.


Once you hire a new employee, the job description serves as a reference point for onboarding. It allows you to review job requirements and tasks in an organized way, and in detail.

This provides the practice with a tremendous advantage, in that the new employee knows what is required and can hit the ground running.

Effective onboarding translates to greater productivity, and an employee who feels s/he is making a contribution—which increases the likelihood of job satisfaction. In addition, because the job requirements, tasks, and expectations have been clearly conveyed, the manager or immediate supervisor will not have to spend as much time with the new hire.


A job description also serves a basis for employee training. When you establish standards for a position and detail tasks, training requirements become clear.

For example, if the practice is installing new software, reviewing job descriptions will help you determine which positions would benefit most from vendor training.

Referencing job descriptions to develop a training plan is especially helpful for the office manager with a large staff.

Staff development

Similarly, a job description can identify areas for staff development.

One example is when you are considering promoting an employee. The job description for the new position will alert you to areas where the staffer may require coaching, training or formal education.

Performance reviews

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to measure performance unless you know what an employee should accomplish. To this end, a job description serves as a critical document. Indeed, because a job description serves a roadmap for performance, a manager should refer to it when preparing a formal performance review.

Referencing the job description during the actual review session is also advantageous—for both the manager and the employee.

For the manager, the document provides an official point of reference, which gives additional credibility to the review process.

For the employee, it helps alleviate any confusion about expectations.

As important, for both parties, the document helps keep the conversation on track and professional in tone.

Strategic planning

When it comes to strategic planning, job descriptions are extremely valuable.

These documents provide insight into workflow and routine tasks, while identifying areas for improvement.

This insight helps you effectively manage a medical office under ordinary circumstances. When faced with significant change, like merging with another practice, this insight is critical.

To attempt strategic planning without the benefit of job descriptions ignores the most critical components of the practice office: the tasks and the people performing those tasks.

And speaking of planning and tasks, the medical office manager should plan to review job descriptions on a regular basis.

An ideal time to do this is in connection to staff performance reviews. Then, if position duties and tasks will change, you can discuss these changes during performance reviews.

What if your medical office doesn’t have job descriptions? Well, first thing’s first. Make a plan to create these essential documents.

Medical Office Manager has a tool to help you write job descriptions right. The MOM job description template provides the major categories that you should include in your job descriptions along with an explanation of what to include in each category. Click here to download.

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