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Avoid Weak-Ass Emails

If You Want Your Voice To Be Heard By Leadership Then Think Like Them

Never send off a nebulous email when your intent is for it to be effective, be concise, outline precisely what the problem is, why you think this issue matters to someone other than you, and provide a few realistic solutions to the problem, if possible. No such email will ever be ignored, nor will it drown in a sea of other emails. That’s what this post is gonna be about.

Sending off a poorly thought out email without an outline is a waste of your time and it will tune out the recipient. Be the person who sends out few emails but is very efficient with them. If you are assigning a task request a ‘read-receipt’, this allows you to hold the recipient accountable.

If you are sending an email to complain make sure that you are saying why your complaint is important, i.e. how might it affect workflow or patient safety. If your reasoning is valid, nobody will tune out… and if they do, you can point out later why it was so important for that email not to be ignored. Every communication you have, whether in person or by email/phone, builds your reputation.

I'm concerned about this because it's affecting patient care and patient safety, specifically those who aren't good at navigating the system. 

Don’t be verbose, it’s fucking annoying reading a wordy, complainy email. Write out what you want to say, then go back and cut out as much as possible. Don’t repeat yourself, it makes your email appear weak.

I am frustrated by the current check-in system which is displacing patients from one department to another, leaving me to deal with the upset patient in the exam room. This is consistently taking time away from me seeing more patients. 

Then outline what you think the problem is. If you don’t know what the problem is and if you have no idea what the solution should be then rethink sending an email. In larger medical groups if you cannot at least guide the recipient in the right direction then you are just another fly at the picnic fucking up everyone’s flow.

The problem is that we are making the patient wait unnecessarily. I am getting a lengthy HPI instead of a succinct chief complaint from the nursing staff. Could we try...

Suggest a solution, as long as it’s plausible you are way ahead of the other whiners. If you suggest that a whole new building should be purchased so that the urgent care doesn’t get bogged down by the various other departments in the building then your email will be deleted. Perhaps you have insight into how something is done outside of your current medical group, either due to your experience or because of a friend you know working somewhere else.

I am seeing so many patients that belong in the ED and not in the urgent care. Could we create a triage station so that these patients can get screened out and redirected appropriately?

Finally, why the shit should anyone in management do whatever it is you are suggesting? Don’t be selfish and think about your current problem. Your email will be so much more powerful if it resonates with the recipient. In this step you are actually getting right inside the recipient’s brain.

I believe this change will help us see more appropriate urgent care patients, increase patient satisfaction and not waste the time of those who don't belong in the urgent care. 

Finally, sometimes you are working in a system that is so congested that changes are implemented for 1-2 weeks before dying off.

So that we can make sure this vital sign gets measured consistently, could we do a chart biopsy once a week after implementation and make sure that anyone with asthma has a peak flow on the chart?

Be prepared to volunteer for any extra work that you are dishing out. Well, perhaps that isn’t the case in your medical group. But imagine how seriously you will be taken in the future if you are willing to step up to any suggestion you make. You are practically creating your job security and possibly opening up a future leadership position for yourself.

Let me tell you, before I started becoming aware of my weak-ass emails I felt quite frustrated because I was basically the barking dog in the room. Not only am I sending off fewer emails, I’m also not repeating myself, and I feel that my points are received better. If you want to read a few more points on writing effective emails check out this link, I really liked the points the author brings up.


Do you have any mind-bending techniques you use to get your emails to the top of the que?

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