Find Inspiration On
some common courtesies to bear in mind when visiting colleagues.
I was a young up and comer, I always made it a point to seek out well-known O.D.s
to visit when I traveled to meetings, or even on family vacations. I very much enjoyed
seeing the offices of successful optometrists around the country.
What I learned from these visits was central
to my own success, as it was both inspirational and educational to meet highly accomplished
O.D.s in person. And while I strongly recommend this approach if you are looking
for new ideas, there are some important "do's and don'ts" to follow when you take
a peek into another O.D.s practice.
Be a gracious guest
Don't just show-up. Make an appointment. It's
perfectly o.k. to call a colleague and say something like, "I'm Dr. Jones from Jasper,
I'm going to be in your area next month and would like to stop by and visit your
practice." A few might say no, but most docs will be flattered by the request.
Don't be intrusive. As Yogi Berra said,
"You can observe a lot just by watching." Be conscious not to interrupt patient
flow or disturb staff members trying to do their jobs.
Don't be too nosy. It's fine to inquire,
"Why do you take acuities before the case history?" or, "How do you like that brand
of retinal camera?" but questions about finances are generally off limits. If your
host volunteers this kind of information, that's fine. It is, however, a little
crude to outright ask someone you don't know well, "How much do you gross?" or,
"What do you pay your associate?"
Don't try to one up your host. Once
you've visited a few offices, you will have seen some impressive operations. The
last thing a guest should do is deflate a proud practice owner by telling him, "Your
frame display is nice, but Dr. Smith in Seattle has one twice as big."
Don't point out problems. Again, if
your host asks for input, it's a different story. But as a rule, uninvited comments
such as, "You need a slit lamp in that exam room," or, "You should never let your
receptionist quote disposable lens fees on the phone," are completely inappropriate.
Take home lessons
Do try to find at least one pearl you can take
home and emulate. That is, after all, why you are there. Ask your host what he thinks
makes his practice special. Is it a beautiful, high-tech office? Has the practice
integrated a new piece of equipment into the exam routine? Do they use a particular
method of recall or delegation?
Do follow-up with a thank-you note
and an offer to reciprocate if the O.D. is ever in your area.
You can always learn from others
The theme of this column is based on a quote that
has helped guide my life: "Except for the books you read, the places you visit and
the people you meet, you will be the same person five years from now that you are
today." It's something I really believe and for that reason, I'd like to express
my sincere thanks to the many colleagues who have mentored me over the years, especially
Dr. Bob Koetting of St Louis. You will never know how much your willingness to share
helped me to grow as an optometrist.
THE FOUNDER OF
KNOWYOURSTAFF.COM AND HAYES CONSULTING, DR. HAYES
IS A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR TO OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT
MAGAZINE. REACH HIM AT
Optometric Management, Issue: April 2006