Just as there isn’t one single route into practice management or one agreed job description or qualification to be a practice manager, so it is with assistant practice managers.
Often people work up through the ranks and take on the assistant PM role, others are recruited specifically for the role. There are pros and cons to both - those who work up through the ranks have the organisational and system knowledge, but may struggle with managing people they recently worked alongside, and those from outside may struggle to pick up everything quickly and find the culture very different to what they have been used to elsewhere.
Whether your assistant practice manager is an internal promotion or an appointment from externally, they will need training for this new role.
Most of this training will be ‘on the job’ training, which will fall to you as the practice manager.
What should you cover in training?
The first step to working out what training will be required is to define the role. The following are things to think about as you do this:
- What are the practice’s needs?
- Do you want them to concentrate on one area, or have more responsibility in a particular area - for example running reception, managing the day-to-day accounts?
- What are your own strengths and weaknesses, could you employ someone who is better in areas that you find more difficult in order to free your time for the parts of the job you excel at?
You can download an example assistant practice manager job description here to help you with this.
Ideas for a training programme
The exact training plan will vary on the experience of the person and the needs of the practice. It is a lot to learn for someone new to general practice. If another practice locally also has an APM, you could introduce them so that they have some peer support.
Hopefully a well-trained APM will provide you with support and bring some new ideas or a different perspective and help to share the workload in managing the practice.
Below are links to some suggestions to help you put together your own training programme for assistant practice managers. The training covers admin, general practice management tasks, finance and HR. It could easily be done in a different order but this aims to start off with the most basic skills and work up to the more complex.
The information in these articles is not intended to be exhaustive. These are suggestions and areas to address when training your APM and you may need to adapt them to suit the needs of your own practice and the role that you want your new APM to undertake.
Assistant practice manager training plan
- Assistant practice manager training plan 1: Admin, reports and communications
- Assistant practice manager training plan 2: General practice management
- Assistant practice manager training plan 3: Practice finance
- Assistant practice manager training plan 4: HR and staff management
Fionnuala O'Donnell is a practice manager in Ealing, West London, and a CCG board member.