Protect Your Practice

As practice managers, you can’t take good care of your doctors, if you don’t take good care of yourself first.

Taking care of yourself and your doctors

The very nature of medical practice means it is inevitable there will be a certain level of stress, but the critical point as a practice manager is recognising when this becomes distress. Being able to maintain a healthy equilibrium and effectively manage your practice depends on how well you care for your own needs, seek support at difficult times and build up resilience that will enable you to ride the distressing times.

Running a busy practice can be demanding and working excessively long hours increases the potential for error and over time, fatigue can impair your judgement and ability to cope. This can affect relationships with family, friends and colleagues as there may not be enough emotional and physical reserve to sustain healthy relationships. Unfortunately, this may also spill over into how you relate to the practice’s patients, causing alienation.

When the burden of occupational stress becomes evident, practice managers, nurses and support staff should be provided with support systems to assist them.

As a practice manager, you also need to be especially mindful that doctors are sometimes poor at taking care of their own welfare, knowing their limits and keeping on when unwell, and may need extra support.

In Avant’s experience, medical practitioners in the midst of a particularly stressful time, whether it is because of personal matters or because of work pressures, are more vulnerable to mistakes, relating less well to patients or colleagues and then leaving themselves open to complaints. At such times, it is very important to urge the medical practitioner to seek support from family, friends, colleagues, Avant staff or a professional body such as the Doctors’ Health Advisory Service.

Practitioners experiencing the complaints or litigation process may find it quite distressing and confronting. However, studies have shown that the long-term effects of complaints and claims are far less enduring when practitioners are supported through the process.

To keep your medical practitioners and practice staff happy, healthy and productive, a key management strategy is to ensure that staff utilise their leave entitlements during the year, and take at least one break of two to three weeks in duration.

Improve your practice

Avant recommends that as practice managers, you:

  • Familiarise yourself with the local peer network, through CME activities or social activity.
  • Having someone to confide in when something is bothering you will help you through it.
  • Keep work pressures under control by ensuring you take breaks throughout the day.
  • Schedule appointments to allow sufficient time during the day for breaks, catching up on paperwork and returning phone calls and to allow for emergencies.
  • Have your own GP and do not put off important health checks.
  • Call Avant for advice if you receive a complaint and are unsure how to handle it.
  • Follow your own advice: have a balanced lifestyle that incorporates exercise, time out and holidays.

Doctors' Health Advisory Services

DHAS contacts in all States and Territories


Nash, L., Curtis, B., Walton, M., Willcock, S. and Tennant, C. The response of doctors to a formal complaint. Australasian Psychiatry 2006: Vol 14 (3) pp: 246 – 250.

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This publication is proudly brought to you by Avant Mutual Group. The content was authored by Brett McPherson, reviewed by Colleen Sullivan and Avant Mutual Group.

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2014.

IMPORTANT: Professional indemnity insurance products and Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Policy are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and PDS, which is available at or by contacting us on 1800 128 268. Practices need to consider other forms of insurance including directors’ and officers’ liability, public and products liability, property and business interruption insurance, and workers compensation and you should contact your insurance broker for more information. Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Any advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the product is appropriate for you before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us.