There are probably dozens of people who have told you to network more. They have pointed out that in the past, physicians were part of the wider community: leaders in Rotary clubs, presidents of school boards, and even elders or deacons in their church. Not only that, but they also contend it would be better for you to spend your lunch hour face-to-face with a person - especially a colleague - rather than eating a sandwich while catching up on your charting so you can go home on time.
Well, as much as they would like to convince you that you need a LinkedIn profile or should consider joining Toastmasters, I think they are completely off base. Here are a few reasons to put in your back-pocket next time you feel bullied into more networking.
You Already Feel Secure About Your Job
One of the reasons people talk about networking is to build a buffer in case their job suddenly comes to an end. And once again, this isn't a problem for most doctors, especially in Idaho where we have a shortage of physicians. More money is being spent on health care every year so there really is no reason for you to think that things could suddenly shift. Those employed by a large system should feel doubly secure:
a) You know that your employer has your best interests at heart and you have a contract you can rely on to protect you
b) Even if they had to let a few people go because they bought up too many specialists or family doctors, with so many on hand, you are the least likely to get axed.
Independent practitioners should feel even more secure because despite all the changes in the medical industry, you are the masters of your own destiny.
Employed Physicians Already Have a Big Network
Job security is not the only thing you get by being an employed doctor, and I am not just talking about the complete elimination of HR, IT, and ICD-10 headaches. With hundreds of other physicians on the payroll next to you, you already spend your lunch hours hanging out in the physician lounge eating, consulting with each other, and bearing one another's struggles. There is pretty much no good reason to leave the campus to pursue a wider set of relationships. Everybody at your job is working enough hard to fulfill the Triple Aim and you do not want to be the slacker who isn't.
You Thoroughly Understand Your Trade
Ninety percent or more of what you do is pretty routine: you see the patient, assess the situation, prescribe a treatment. The other 10% that leaves you scratching your head really doesn't amount to much, leaving you plenty of time to dive into the journals sitting on the corner of your desk and researching in the well-resourced library. Why would anybody want to be so inefficient as to build relationships with other physicians in the off-chance that they might know the answer to a problem which has not even come up yet?
Doing Tasks is More Fun
If you are like me, checking boxes on forms is as fun as popping bubble wrap. With 100+ clicks per patient that you see, that can make for a really fun day. Let's see: 100 X 24 patients. That's like 2,400 times your brain is getting an endorphin hit for doing something right! And by golly, if there is something you are compelled to do, it is to comply with all the regulations required of you. Taking time to focus on developing relationships is going to cause you to fall behind on the most important part of the job: doing the paperwork in order to get paid!
Nobody Refers to Actual Physicians Anymore
Still others might try to convince you that building relationships with other physicians or community members will help build a referral pipeline. They say by getting to know a physician's personality and strengths that trust is engendered. Pffft! Nobody refers to actual physicians who might do the best job anymore - you can only refer to people who are covered by the patient's insurance. And frankly - you don't even do referrals if you work in a big setting. You have a whole department that coordinates patient care so you don't have to. The added bonus is that by keeping these referrals in your health system, you are actually helping saving the patient save money by avoiding duplication of services.
I hope by now you are convinced that there is NO bigger time suck for physicians than to prioritize networking with people. Building relationships with others – especially outside of your specialty or with competitors across town – is risky, with no guaranteed outcomes and it simply cuts in on doing your fulfilling work. I hope the next time somebody invites you to get away from your desk that you will remind them how all the relational time spent with your patients is more than enough for you.
*In case you don't know what I really stand for or take things super literally, the preceding piece is completely satirical.