How to become a practice manager
GP Practice Manager.
Explore the different ways to get into this role.
You can get into this job through:
- working towards this role
- applying directly
- specialist courses run by professional bodies
You could start as an assistant office manager in a health centre or hospital and work your way up through training and promotion.
You could move into practice management from a range of different business backgrounds. You’ll usually need to be an experienced manager with a management qualification.
Experience in a health or social care setting would be an advantage, though it’s not essential.
You can get relevant qualifications by training with The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists (AMSPAR). Qualifications include:
- a short course Certificate in Health Service Administration
- Level 3 Diploma in Medical Administration
- Level 3 Certificate in Medical Principles for the Administrator
- Level 5 Primary Care and Health Management
These are available through a combination of approved training centres, colleges and online learning. You’ll need to be working in a health-related job to study some of the higher-level qualifications.
You can find out more from AMSPAR.
A day in the life of a practice manager
Podcast – practice manager
What we would like to discuss with you is what it’s like to work as a practice manager. We have a few questions to ask: what is it really like being a practice manager? How did you at the age of 17 or 18 decide what you wanted to do? And were there any challenges that you had to overcome?
How did you become a practice manager?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was younger. One of the subjects in school I enjoyed was media studies so I just continue with it in college. There was always that expectation to go to university as we didn’t really know much about apprenticeships at that time, so I went to university and I did something to do with design and technology! But I decided to drop out in my second year because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it anymore.
This was where I learnt more about apprenticeships and I was like “oh my god, you get paid while you learn”. So I applied for a business administration apprenticeship and it was a typical interview process after submitting my CV. I applied to a few places and the GP practice was the one who offered me a place but I didn’t really know what to expect. I was offered a job as a receptionist and 10 years on I am still here working as a practice manager.
What does a practice manager do?
I’ll start the day by checking my emails and my calendar so I can prioritise my tasks for the day. I make myself available online so staff can ask me any questions or queries. This could be HR related or questions about clinics and different services. I do get approached a lot about technical issues as well. I also run reports on staff activity. Then I deal with any complaints or feedback from patients or staff and attend any meetings or provide training. I get to work on cool projects and run the social media channels for our practice.
What struggles did you face in deciding your career?
A lot of people have parents that tell them what they want their child to become but my parents just wanted to support me in anything I decided to do, there was no pressure. For me I thought not it was a bit harder because you have to make the choice at such a young age. Other young people may have had an idea from their parents of which route to go down but when you have to decide yourself there’s so many different options, I didn’t know what to go with.
Looking back, I think it’s fine not to know. It’s not like you have to make that choice when you’re 15 or 16 and to stick to it. I know many people that have changed careers down the line.
How do you feel about the future?
Even to this day I don’t have a goal of what I want to achieve. It’s more about taking on different opportunities and just giving things a go. I think the most important thing is to just try things and get out of your comfort zone.
Have there been any challenges in your role?
At Hiyos we have social media channels and get to work on content production. One time we worked really hard and had a great idea for a video. We were confident it would do well but… it didn’t! It took a whole month of team effort to plan and produce the content we thought would go viral but it didn’t work out in the end. The key thing is just to keep going and keep trying. Things don’t always work out as you plan.
I remember when I was doing my GCSE’s in school i failed my science mock exam. I sat wondering “what just happened?”. But you need those things to push you, I pulled through in the end and passed! It’s fine for things not to work out and I think there’s a lot of things you can learn when things haven’t gone the way you planned.