Being aware of what’s happening makes all the difference to both patient and practitioner.
It’s true: things come in cycles. At present, we’re in the middle of an “I want my prescription so I can purchase elsewhere” cycle. This isn’t unusual – it happens about every 18 months when, for some reason I haven’t yet been able to fathom, there is a noticeable upsurge in patients wanting their scripts. And every time it happens, it leads to complaints.
At the heart of most of the complaints is a simple theme. Patients think an eye examination is an exact, quantifiable science and the production of spectacles is equally precise, without room for variation.
At present, we’re in the middle of an “I want my prescription so I can purchase elsewhere” cycle
Perhaps we only have ourselves to blame.
As clinicians, do we take the extra minutes to explain to patients what we are doing, why and the implication? Or do we proceed through the exam without explanation, and without discussing the intricacies of what we are seeing, then produce a set of ‘magical’ numbers, which are seemingly the absolute end-point of everything we have just done?
And because they are numbers, they must be precise, surely? Otherwise, what was the point?
This of course leads to the real problem – when the numbers aren’t the be-all, the patient is less than impressed – and complaints follow.
So could I offer two pieces of gratuitous advice?
Firstly, explain what you are doing, why you are doing it and what implication it has for the patient’s eye health. This will help make the whole examination process a focus, rather than just numbers at the end.
And secondly, if a patient does ask for a script, give it to them with good grace and encourage them to come back if they have any problems. The reality is, a very large number of patients will try something somewhere else, be dissatisfied and want to come back to you. However if you’ve made them feel like they have betrayed you, they’ll be too embarrassed – and you will have lost them. If you’ve left the door open, they may well return – and be life-long devotees of your practice to boot!
Knowledge is power when it comes to career growth.
Did you know that professional isolation is one of the primary factors stopping us from reaching our full career potential?
Whether it’s a higher salary, a management role, working hours that support your lifestyle choice or a practice of your own, it will be significantly harder to achieve if you are living in a professional bubble.
Those of you attempting to juggle family and career will find it particularly challenging and before you know it, the professional life you imagined when studying has turned into just another nine to five job. This doesn’t have to be the case.
It’s hard to maintain a passion and enthusiasm for what we do every day, but given how much of our life we spend doing it, it’s imperative that our work makes us happy and is professionally fulfilling. Having skills and expertise, yet not using them, is frustrating and can detrimentally affect our self-confidence. Whereas stretching our intellect, learning new things and solving problems gives us immense satisfaction.
If you only mingle in a closed professional circle, you won’t know what’s going on in your profession – what are optometrists being paid, what new tricks will make treating something easier, who is having to work over Christmas and who isn’t it. You won’t know whether owning your own practice is for you, or what the pros and pitfalls of franchising arrangements are. You won’t know if you’re on a good wicket or if you’ve landed yourself in the optometric equivalent of a professional backwater where your years of training are under-utilised. You won’t hear about those fantastic jobs (or applicants) before they’re advertised.
Knowing what’s going on in optometry outside your usual employment circles will empower you to make informed career and professional life choices.
The best way to ensure you have easy access to the widest and most diverse professional optometry circle is to be a member of Optometry Australia. Simple.