If you’re here, you’re the kind of dermatologist that puts all your work into running the best dermatology practice possible. If you’re in an urban or suburban area where you are competing with other dermatology practices for patients, it’s important to do everything possible to set your practice apart from others. Establishing and communicating your vision and mission can help you stand out by creating a culture that your patients want to be a part of. Let’s look more closely.
What is a mission statement? What is a vision statement?
A mission statement defines your organization’s purpose; a vision statement identifies your organization’s future and core values. There may be overlap between the two, and that’s okay; your mission statement should inform your vision statement and vice versa.
How your mission statement benefits your practice
Your mission statement should help give focus to everything your practice does, including how you interact with clients, how you brand and market your practice, and even how you care for your employees. While the primary audience for your mission statement is your own organization, it should inform how you treat your patients, too. If you haven’t written a mission statement for your practice, or haven’t revisited it in several years, consider these questions:
- What is the primary objective of my dermatology practice?
- What is the primary activity of my dermatology practice?
- Who are our primary patients?
The answers to those three questions should inform your mission statement. Not only can the right mission statement drive growth, productivity, and success when thoughtfully developed, but it also helps ensure your entire practice—including both employees and patients—have the same expectations of the work and services provided, helping hold everyone to a similarly high standard. This high standard, in turn, becomes part of your brand. So, too, can your vision statement, so let’s look at your vision statement next.
How your vision statement benefits your practice
Similarly to your mission statement, your vision statement conveys what your practice represents. Unlike the mission statement, however, the vision statement is more forward-facing, focusing on how the core values of the organization position your dermatology practice for the future. Your vision statement should identify not just why you are in business, but how those core values translate to your future aspirations. If you haven’t written a vision statement for your dermatology practice or haven’t revisited it in several years, consider the following questions:
- Why do I want this type of dermatology practice?
- How do our core values stand the test of time?
- How can we best serve our patients?
Those three questions help you position your practice and your brand for the future. Identifying the type of dermatology practice you want—whether general dermatology, a mix of general and cosmetic dermatology, dermatology surgery, boutique dermatology, or something else entirely—can also help you better identify your ideal future clients. Next, identifying how you want your core values—such as integrity, safety, respect, patient care, or service—to stand the test of time helps ensure your practice won’t become outdated and left behind as competitors evolve and improve. Finally, identifying how you can best serve your patients can help you pinpoint how you might want to branch out, diversify, or expand your practice, whether that means operating in multiple locations, working with multiple providers, or even just changing your schedule.
How do you use your mission statement and vision statement?
Like your mission statement, your vision statement should be a central part of your dermatology practice, both in your internal practices and policies and in your external branding and marketing. You can use them in a variety of ways, which makes them incredibly helpful in improving both your dermatology practice’s performance and your patient base.
How do your mission statement and vision statement help your dermatology practice build a brand?
When it comes to helping your practice stand out in comparison to your competitors, that brand can be incredibly important. Let’s look at an example.
For instance, here at VitalSkin our brand is symbolized by the VitalSkin Dermatology logo, just as our business and mission are summed up in our name, VitalSkin. “Vital” speaks to vitality, new life, and growth, and to the criticality of our work and partnership with physicians. “Skin” is a clear indicator of dermatology and aesthetics, the place where we work. Our vision reflects this intersection of vitality and growth with dermatology and aesthetics.
We could have defined our core customer here at VitalSkin as the shareholders, the patients, the employees, the communities we serve, etc. But we believe serving dermatologists first frees you to provide the best care to your patients. As a result, our vision and brand are built on the answers to these three questions:
- What can we be the best in the world at? Aligning with our doctors.
- What are we passionate about? Supporting our doctors.
- What drives our economic model? The number of doctors we support.
At the core of our strategy is you—the dermatologist. That influences the services and care we provide to you, just as your mission and vision statements can influence the service and care you provide to your patients.
How do your mission statement and vision statement help your dermatology practice succeed?
With a successfully identified mission statement and vision statement, patients have a clear idea of exactly what to expect from your practice—and so do your employees, which helps ensure all patients get the same great service. Clearly defined mission and vision statements also help you as a service provider identify what your priorities are, which can help you better position your practice in an oft-crowded marketplace—enabling you to outmaneuver your competitors.
Key values of successful mission statements and vision statements include:
- Staff members know exactly what service expectations are—as well as the future direction of the practice—which in turn helps them better perform their job and buy-in to shared goals for the practice.
- Shared mission and vision statements can be used to review staff performance, allowing you to better hold employees accountable.
- Patients better understand your goals as a service provider, which both builds confidence in new patients and allows returning patients to better hold you and your staff accountable when they see service or care slip.
Pitfalls to watch for
Let’s close with a few words of caution, the three most common mistakes dermatology practices make in setting their mission and vision statements:
- Fail to be specific or try to do too much. While a successful mission statement or vision statement can help your practice stand out, drive your marketing and branding, and help ensure you provide top-notch service, a weak, vague, or overhanded statement can actually do more harm than good. For instance “providing the best service” means different things to different people.
- Expect perfection. Think of ways you can quantify your statements objectively, as that lends them power. Keep in mind, too, that no one is perfect; you and your employees will slip up from time to time. The goal is to make both your mission statement and vision statement waypoints toward which you all continually strive.
- Refuse to update. Revisit both your mission statement and vision statement regularly. Your practice will—and should—continually change and evolve. Make sure your mission and vision statements reflect that reality.