Article Date: 4/1/2009

Structure is Key to Easing Into Optometric Practice
From the AOSA

Structure is Key to Easing Into Optometric Practice

An office policy and procedures manual can take the angst out of the transition.

By Tyson Allard
President, AOSA

I'VE SPOKEN TO several optometry school graduates who've told me that making the transition from optometry school to optometric practice is exciting but also overwhelming. I believe the answer to feeling less overwhelmed is to get organized. And one of the ways to do this is to develop an office policy and procedures manual. A policy manual will provide guidelines for you and your staff to follow, so your practice will run more productively and efficiently.

In this article, I'll discuss what a policy manual should consist of and how it will help you ease into optometric practice.

Mission Statement

Probably one of the most important aspects of an office policy and procedures manual is the mission statement. A mission statement defines the main purpose of your practice, and it outlines its principles and objectives. It's important to develop a mission statement to keep you and your employees on the same page and to ensure short-term and long-term goals and objectives of the practice are met. I believe when optometrists define goals and objectives for their practice, they're more likely to be successful, because they have clear direction. Employees communicate more effectively, and they're more productive.

Risk Management

Once you've established a mission statement, it's important to develop guidelines concerning employee job descriptions and job performance expectations, staff conduct and training, confidentiality agreements and accounting procedures. These policies will serve as risk management tools for your practice. Practice management experts say that establishing well-written policies and procedures that communicate clear expectations for employees can protect your practice and yourself from unnecessary lawsuits. On the other hand, poorly written policies leave you open to misunderstandings and litigation.

Greater Efficiency

Creating a policy manual also will help your practice become more efficient because your employees will know what's expected of them, what goals and objectives must be met and how to run the practice. And when your employees know how to run the practice, you won't feel anxious or overwhelmed, and you'll be able to focus on your greatest passion: administering patient care. nOD

To learn more about how to develop an office policy and procedures manual, visit the American Optometric Association's Web site: There, you'll find articles on how to develop office policies and procedures.

Mr. Allard serves as the 2009-2010 president of the American Optometric Student Association. He's a second lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve. After optometry school, he plans to serve in the U.S. Air Force as an optometric physician. You can reach him at

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2009