Explore this issue:January 2014
—Drew M. Locandro, MD
In life, forging the right alliances is crucial, both personally and professionally. For physicians, this typically means finding the right partner, or group of partners, who will help you build and grow the kind of medical practice you envisioned for yourself during those all-too-common late nights in residency and medical school.
But, how do you weed out the frogs from the princes when it comes to finding a professional mate? It’s not just about choosing a fellow physician whose surgical skills you admire. What matters more, say professionals and search firm experts, is finding someone with compatible professional values, a common work ethic, and a similar approach to patient care.
“I was looking for someone who I thought was honest and had integrity, a good work ethic, and personal stability,” said Donald C. Lanza, MD, a private practice otolaryngologist and director of the Sinus and Nasal Institute of Florida, based in St. Petersburg, about his decision earlier this year to make his former fellow, Alla Y. Solyar, MD, a junior partner. “I think you have to find someone with similar philosophies to the physician group toward patient care and ethics in general,” he added. “With Dr. Solyar, I saw qualities that were genuine.”
Winston Vaughan, MD, an otolaryngologist of California Sinus Centers based in Northern California, said his partnership with fellow otolaryngologist and sinus surgeon Karen Fong, MD, works because they share the same philosophy of care. “Our surgery patients have our cell phone numbers, our emails, and they can reach us,” Dr. Vaughan said. “If I go to Jamaica to see my parents, Karen can take calls for me, manage questions or any urgent issues, and when she goes to Los Angeles to see her parents, I do the same for her. Our patients know we are in sync when it comes to their care. They know that Karen thinks like me and I think like her.”
Being able to rely on a partner is paramount. “Partnerships are like marriages: Trust is important,” said Drew M. Locandro, MD, an otolaryngologist and president of Northwest ENT and Allergy Center, a six-physician otolaryngology practice based in Marietta, Georgia. “You need to trust your partner, that he’ll back you up no matter what, that he’s doing the right thing in terms of patient care, and that he’s someone you can count on who can take care of your own patients if the need arises.”