Article Date: 6/1/2004

o.d. to o.d.
Be the Conduit for Your Staff
The excitement and enthusiasm of your state meeting can benefit your entire practice. Here's how to make it happen.
BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

State optometric meetings are blanketing the country with continuing education week by week. While attending these meetings, I observe things that seem so much the natural order of our profession that it would seem odd if they didn't occur.

For example, there's always a high level of excitement among state executives and administrative staff over the fact that the meeting is finally taking place. Those optometrists who prepare to advance in the chairs and accept even greater responsibility for running their state optometric associations also share in the excitement. Other O.D.s are equally enthusiastic about relinquishing those responsibilities. They're tickled to pass these duties along to the up and coming.

From exhibit hall to cocktails

Exhibits have become more commonplace at every state association meeting. Although the exhibits may not be as large or as plentiful as those you'll find at the regional or national optometric meetings, there's no lack of enthusiasm among the exhibitors or the attendees.

Of course, attendees exchange the best practice management information and the most current gossip in the corridors or over cocktails at the end of a long day.

In the CE presentations, there's always that one guy in the front row who has a tape recorder and a guy in the middle of the room -- usually right on the aisle -- who is taking copious notes. Balancing their enthusiasm is the guy reading the sports section in the back row.

The ladies of the auxiliary are busy with a full agenda, catching up on what each has accomplished since they last met. And of course the state paraoptometric section is excited about their part in the CE program and in planning for the future.

Where's the missing link?

With all of this activity and excitement, there's one thing missing from all too many meetings: STAFF. The doctors are there, the wives are there. In some cases the doctors' kids are there. But few staff attend.

As doctors, it's easy for us to attend our state optometric association meetings and make ourselves believe that we'll gather the relevant information that's available and take it back to share with our staff.

However, few of us actually ever follow through with this intention. And even if you could gather the facts and figures, it's difficult, if not impossible, to share it with the enthusiasm, the inflection of voice and the motivational quality of the original presentation.

When your staff doesn't attend your state optometric association meeting, they miss the opportunity to be a part of something exciting -- something that most attendees anticipate and enjoy.

Benefits of staff participation

Staff receive two important benefits from being included in your state optometric association meetings:

1. The ability to share and gather ideas from others who work in similar positions around your state. The advantage to sharing and gathering is that it helps your staff develop confidence in their knowledge and ability by learning from some and mentoring others.

2. The excitement that comes from learning and understanding, and the confidence that a broader base of knowledge provides.

When considering the investments you've made (or plan to make) in your office, remember that a confident, knowledgeable and excited staff is the most valuable asset you can have and share with patients.


Optometric Management, Issue: June 2004