All midwives and administrative staff will eventually leave the practice group, whether temporarily or permanently; unexpectedly or with notice. As a result, succession planning is critical to the practice’s ongoing success and operation. Succession planning is a natural continuation of human resource planning by identifying talent through performance management, and providing training opportunities to prepare workers to accept new responsibilities.
The practice group needs to determine and be aware of the responsibilities of everyone who works at the practice and how these will be handled in the event that someone leaves the practice or is unable to continue to fulfill those responsibilities. For example, some practice groups have reported difficulties when practice group budgets are due and the only midwife with experience preparing a budget is suddenly unavailable.
Once identified, you need to develop a specific plan for how to address the areas where only one person has critical information or knowledge. Documenting protocols, best practices and critical information (for running the day-to-day practice) is a way to ensure that essential practice knowledge is maintained and accessible. You may wish to ensure that documented information is accessible for the whole practice (e.g., on a shared drive, or the intranet).
Another option to consider is to set up regular cross-training opportunities so knowledge is shared between practice members. For example, some practice groups plan to change midwife/ partner/ administrative responsibilities on a regular cycle so that knowledge is shared and different midwives would be able to fill a gap if one were to occur.
The AOM website has examples of midwife responsibilities as defined by practice protocols. Be sure to tailor the template to reflect best practices and practice group / community specific information before use.