Disengage Your Autopilot
for comfort can dull your edges.
DAN BECK, O.D.
THE GOAL OF ANY PROFESSIONAL
is to become completely relaxed and comfortable in any work-related situation. Solving
problems confidently and without anxiety is the basis for success. We must solve
our patients' problems while they're sitting there staring back at us. Unlike some
other professions, we can't just leave the office and catch up the next day.
Many optometrists seem to reach a comfort zone
around their fifth year. Once you reach this zone, however, it can become all
too easy to sit back and put your skills on autopilot. While it's a great feeling
to be comfortable enough to treat patients with minimal stress, this attitude can
frequently lead to complacency. Want to avoid getting stuck in a professional rut?
Buy New Equipment
There is nothing better for jumpstarting a doctor
and a practice more than a new instrument. Adding a new digital camera or incorporating
an optical coherence tomographer will make seeing patients more interesting.
It also will raise your level of patient care and increase revenue.
such major purchases are beyond your means, take a look at other, less costly instruments.
You can get a pachymeter for just a few thousand dollars and anterior segment photography
systems for even less. Release your inner techie to get your juices flowing again.
Dust Off Dormant Skills
We all remember doing gonioscopy and dilation/irrigation
in optometry school. Yet, many O.D.s simply stop performing these tests in the real
world. The phrase: "I'm not really comfortable doing that" is an excuse, and that's
the crux of the problem. Performing only the procedures we do all the time does
nothing to increase our competence as doctors. Doing new tasks will keep your examination
toolkit and your practice up-to-date.
Be a Technician For a Day
Remember when we were all just techs? Our job
was to gather the data to present to our preceptor. In today's practices, with so
many parts of an exam
delegated to technicians, some docs have nearly forgotten
how to gather information. When we bring in new technology, such as a digital retinal
camera, the sales people usually teach the techs, not necessarily the doctor, how
to use it. I say, you paid for it, now learn to use it.
Learning the nuts and bolts of new
instruments can actually improve patient flow. For example, if the technicians
are busy with other patients, you won't have to wait to get retina photos or corneal
topography readings because you don't know how to use your own instruments. Taking
the time to become competent in all the jobs your technicians do is a good way to
Keep Moving Forward
Getting to the point in our professional lives
where we can face all our patients with confidence is obviously our goal. Getting
too comfortable, however, means we're not pushing ourselves.
Don't be afraid to try something new
or revisit a long-forgotten technique. The extra stress, which can be unpleasant,
will ultimately make you a better doctor. Now go dig up that three-mirror lens you
haven't seen for a year.
a victim of complacency and a '93 graduate of PCO, Dr. Beck practices in Leland,
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2006