Face the (sometimes awkward) duality of optometry.
[Editor's note: This is one of three honorable mention winners in INVISION’s essay contest. Eyecare professionals submitted essays in response to the prompt, “If you could order all eyecare pros to do one specific thing, and they had to listen to you, what would it be? And why would you ask them to do it?”]
I have two questions for you. Question No. 1: Do you cringe at the handoff? Question No. 2: Do you understand Question No. 1?
If the answer to No. 2 is no, then please feel free to stop reading right now. If, however, you cringed just reading Question No. 1, allow me to share with you how I got over it and how you can get over it, too.
Scenario: You have just finished explaining to Mrs. X the reason for her decreased vision. You have expertly explained that she has early cataracts, an epiretinal membrane, and have recommended an appropriate follow-up schedule. She is duly wowed by your professionalism and sheer brilliance and exclaims, “I have never had such a thorough eye exam before in my life!”
You bask in the warm glow of her praise and think how awesome it is to be an optometrist. You walk her up to the front desk and turn briskly on your heel to get to the next patient.
“Oh doctor!” Mrs. X calls out. “Can I have a copy of my prescription?”
Your heart sinks because, well, you kinda blew it. Again. The two voices inside your head start fighting. Again. “She thinks I am an awesome doctor, a real doctor! I didn’t want to have the glasses conversation in the exam room, that would have ruined my credibility!”
The other voice shakes its metaphorical head and retorts, “How do you think this practice is going to thrive if you don’t sell glasses!?! Half of your income comes from sales!”
For many years, this was me. As a young female OD, I was constantly challenged to prove myself. Yes, I am just as good as the senior male doctor. Yes, boss, I can generate enough sales to cover my salary (even though I sometimes willfully ignored our optical). Yes, I can juggle two children and a career and a student loan ... oops, different essay.
"It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, employee or employer. We are all faced with the sometimes awkward duality of optometry.”
Bottom line though, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, employee or employer. We are all faced with the sometimes awkward duality of optometry.
About 10 years ago I started to contemplate buying the practice I had been working in for the last decade. I knew that I really had to get into the sales aspect of the practice, but the truth was that our optical was uninspiring.
Along with my amazing office manager, Amy, we slowly began to change the face of the optical until it morphed into something that was cool and eclectic, yet still affordable for our community. I started to build up a glasses wardrobe and wear trendier clothes to match my new aesthetic, and I found I was able to maintain my professionalism and actually feel authentic selling from the exam room. Not every OD is accomplishing this mindset shift with a makeover, but my advice is, find an aspect of the optical you are passionate about and you won’t feel sleazy about the dreaded handoff!