diversify your portfolio
Diversify Your Personal Portfolio
Having interests outside of eye care is essential to practice success.
JEFFRY D. GERSON, O.D., F.A.A.O.
If someone asked you to describe yourself, how would you reply? I wager most of us would answer, “I’m an optometrist” or “I’m an eye doctor” because everyone, regardless of their job, tends to define themselves by what they do for a living. This makes sense: Most of us spend a significant percentage of our days at work. And therein lies a potential problem for your practice.
Here, I explain why having interests outside of optometry is important.
They provide an outlet.
Hobbies and passions outside of work, such as sports, afford a needed outlet from the stress and frustrations associated with running a practice, such as sticking to your schedule and dealing with difficult patients. When you focus your energies on non-work-related activities, you enable yourself to recharge for the challenges of running a practice. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology reveals “creative activity was positively associated with recovery experiences (i.e., mastery, control and relaxation) and performance-related outcomes (i.e., job creativity and extra-role behaviours).”
They afford “think time.”
When participating in a non-work-related activity, you have the opportunity for optimal “think time” because you don’t have the distractions of work, such as ringing phones and staff bombarding you with questions.
Personally, I get some of my best ideas for practice management when swimming or while on my bike.
They can grow your practice.
Participation in one or more activities outside of optometry enables you to market yourself and your practice.
For example, if you are on a board for an organization or school, members of that group will naturally ask what you do for a living. Once they know you provide eye care, many will likely seek your practice for their eyecare needs and tell others about you. Similarly, if you have a sports-related hobby, you have the opportunity to educate your teammates about the ways their vision can be improved on the field or court and that you provide such services. An example: Replacing constantly moving glasses with sports goggles or contact lenses.
They establish patient trust.
When you can hold a conversation with patients about your hobbies and passions and why you’re involved with these outside activities, you create a personal connection with the patient that translates to trust. Once you connect with a patient beyond what you do in the exam room, they are more likely to comply with your prescribed treatment, spectacle recommendations and become loyal to your practice.
Make the time.
Some of you reading this column may be thinking, “I just don’t have time to pursue a hobby,” or “I am just too tired to do an activity outside the practice.” The truth of the matter is that you can’t afford not to follow interests outside of optometry if you want a successful practice: The more we do outside our professional setting, the happier we are and the better our practice does. Happy doctors have happy patients. OM