Optometric Management Tip # 242   -   Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Staff Cross-training Is Easy

As a consultant, I spend a lot of time talking to optometrists about the details of how they operate their offices. As a practicing OD, this allows me to constantly evaluate the methods and systems I use in my own practice. One of the major differences I notice between my system and that of most ODs is that all my clinical technicians also serve as opticians. Iím surprised that other doctors find that to be a novel approach; Iíve simply always done it that way and it seems like no big deal. This cross-training certainly has some big advantages when it comes to staff scheduling and providing excellent patient service.

Staff Departments

Most practices are organized by department to some extent, based on the function of the job duties. This is logical since employees can be better trained if they specialize and it limits the responsibility for certain tasks to fewer people. My practice is divided into departments as shown below. Employees are generally based in one department where they do most of their work Ė but they also work in other departments at times. Iíve provided some ideas for cross-training in each department. Hiring and training

My practice hires many employees for the clinical technician position. When we advertise and interview that job description, we require prior eye care experience. Invariably, we receive applications from people who have experience and training in either clinical eye care or optical dispensing. On rare occasion, a candidate will have experience in both areas, but not often.

We then look to identify the best candidate as one who is bright, friendly, articulate, and has all the usual qualities of a good employee. That person is hired and enters our in-office training program. While all job duties and instruments are covered, we often have to train especially for the missing skill, either optical or clinical. Training is accomplished through shadowing a senior technician, then roles are reversed and the senior tech observes the newcomer.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management