Open Accessibility Menu

The Five Year Mark

The Five Year Mark

Tiller-Hewitt HealthCare Strategies’ Partners – Guest Blog Series

Kim Grant. Manager Physician Relations at Children’s Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio

As I reflect on my almost 5 years as a physician liaison I start to see the similarities between my job and the game of golf. Strange comment I know – especially if you do not golf – but hang with me here and you might see what I mean.

The First Year

In my first year of being a liaison, I truly did not know what I did not know. For example, I did not know that doctors would not just stop whatever they were doing to talk with me. I thought my charming personality and ability to converse on almost all topics would be enough. Imagine my surprise when the receptionist said I needed to leave my information and she would be happy to make sure they received everything.

In my first year of golf, I again did not know what I did not know. While I was aware of the rules of golf, I knew nothing about golf etiquette. Who knew you could not talk when someone else was getting ready to hit their ball? Who knew I was supposed to stand out of their sightline? And really, who knew cell phones were not allowed on the golf course? Cell phones are allowed everywhere these days!

Three Years In

In my third year of being a liaison I thought – I have this down. By this time I can usually get to see some physicians if I have something that they need or if I have solved a problem for them. At this point I realize it is really all about them – not me. I need to listen WAY more than I talk when I get some time with them.

At three years in on the golf course, I have learned not to talk when others are hitting the ball. In fact, I talk less and observe more of what others are doing so I can learn the unwritten etiquette of the game. I start to see that I can learn so much about a person on the golf course but observing them play. Do they cheat? Do they lie on their score? Are they talkative, shy? I start to see that their personality at play is a microcosm of their personality at work.

The Five Year Mark

It is now year five of my career as a physician liaison. I finally feel that I have gained the trust of 90 % of the physicians/staff that I have been calling on for nearly 5 years. I truly feel comfortable walking into every office. I even feel comfortable walking into new offices and establishing new relationships. I find that I adapt my personality to ‘fit’ or’ mirror’ the personality of the person I am with to make them feel more comfortable. It has truly taken me that long to build these relationships.

On the golf course – my game is OK. I hit the ball pretty well and don’t embarrass myself with my play. But I finally realize that others do not care how good I am, but rather how well I follow the rules and etiquette of the game. I never hold anyone up with slow play, I don’t’ drive the cart on the green. In fact, I find that I adapt my personality to ‘fit’ or ‘mirror’ the personality of the person I am with to make them feel more comfortable. It has truly taken me this long to feel comfortable on a golf course and play with virtually anyone from old friend to someone I literally just met at the first tee.

And guess what? The people I play golf with now are the community physicians I call on! They are also the CEO, CFO, surgeons, specialists and staff at the hospital I represent. Yes, the game of golf has given me the opportunity to spend time with people that I would never necessarily be in meetings with on a daily basis, much less spend 6 hours with on a golf course! Golf is another way to build the key relationships we as liaisons need to have the most impact we can both internally and externally. Not only has it helped me professionally, but personally as well, as I have built new friendships through my career as a liaison and through the game of golf. Oh– and I still take my cell phone on the course but have it on vibrate hidden in my golf bag!

Let me know if you have used golf to build or enhance your relationships with physicians. What other tools do you use outside-the-box to build relationships? Is golf something you would add knowing that it can get you on the first tee with your CEO? I would LOVE to hear from you!