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HomeminewsBrushing Up on Business Skills

Brushing Up on Business Skills

UNSW SOVS has seen its first group of students complete its Business Skills in Optometry Course.

The course was led by Linda Hailey, a small business expert who guided the participants through a series of weekly webinars dealing with all aspects of business and marketing directly relating to optometry. Two weekend meetings brought the students together to work through their assignments, meet personally with mentors and gain valuable one on one assistance from optometrists with a wide range of business experience.

Participants from independent and corporate practice were mentored by optometrists experienced in running their own business in a variety of situations. Many of the students were surprised by how directly relevant the course was to their own personal situation and how each of the topics covered involved a practical exercise in their own workplace.

Describing the course, Craig Stamp, senior optometrist, Director of Limbus Advisory, and the course coordinator said it “provides a remarkably high calibre business program focussed around optometry and successful practice management, covering a broad and appropriate range of business topics to help optometrists improve the management efficiency and effectiveness of their practice”.

There is no shame in providing great clinical care and being rewarded financially for delivering value for patients…

No Shame in SuccessHe said it is essential for optometrists to focus on the business aspects of their practice as well as the clinical aspects and that optometrists should take pride in being successful business managers.

“There is no shame in providing great clinical care and being rewarded financially for delivering value for patients… an efficiently optimised optometric practice helps improve the delivery of patient care as well as driving improved financial performance of the practice,” said Mr. Stamp.

“Optometrists have relatively high set up and entry costs, therefore, a practice needs to not only optimise patient care, but provide a platform to drive financial success. This is particularly important as new diagnostic technology has high costs and a practice needs strong cash flow and profitability to help fund the entry costs of new technology.

“The course draws on the expertise of business professionals and successful practising optometrists from all segments of the market. After a career in business and having undertaken post-graduate studies in business and marketing in both Australia and the USA, I was impressed in the content of this program and the benefit it provided the optometrists. Regardless of your mode of practice, independent or corporate, this course is worth considering,” said Mr. Stamp.

Philip Rose, National Business Development Manager at Eyecare Plus participated in the course and said it was “great value”.

“It teaches you to structure – the one, two, three of operating a practice from finding the right practice location based on demographic research through to how to open a practice, plan marketing campaigns to target different demographics, extract and work with your patient data and how to best present your practice to your target market.

“In my role, I meet with about 80-90 optometry practices a year and work with many more. I’ll definitely pass many of the points covered in the course on to my members. I would recommend the course to all independent optometrist who are either in their own practice or thinking of opening their own practice.”

As a recent graduate in his first year of practice, optometrist Chris Pooley also found the course valuable. “As a newcomer to the profession the course was really useful. Things I didn’t understand before about practice procedures all started to make sense,” he said.

“I also discovered ways to improve systems – for example, by reviewing practices I realised that different approaches to patient recall should be implemented for different age groups. A 20 year old wants a one line SMS whereas an older person prefers a formal, personalised letter.”

Mr. Pooley said although he found the weekly webinar sessions user friendly and convenient, the most valuable instruction was face to face. “We went into the university three times for a debrief day and they were the best days because as well as having our four course mentors, there were 20 optometrists there and everyone was really open – encouraging and happy to share information on how to improve their practice.”

The course will run again in 2013 and applications are now open. For details contact Philip Dulhunty at the NSW School of Optometry and Vision Science email: p.dulhunty@unsw.edu.au.

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