Practice Success Is A Shared Responsibility
JANE J. BEEMAN, COA, NCLC-AC, FCLSA, PRSA
Almost every article and editorial on "the successful practice" explores the use of ancillary staff in the professional eyecare office. Why is that? Have you ever given any real thought to what your practice would look like without the staff?
Staff and Your Practice
Who would silence those ever ringing phones, find the misfiled charts, answer detailed questions on schedules, pricing, products, procedures and give accurate directions to the office? Who would greet the patients, supply the rooms and update the ocular history? Who can make the visual field and corneal mapping computers perform perfectly and calm the shaking hands of a new contact lens patient through his first application and removal training? For many of us, who would do the routine pre-testing, administer the mydriatics, take the photos and soothe the irritated patients when we're running behind schedule? Who stands beside the practitioner when he unlocks the door in the morning and when the deadbolt clicks closed at night?
Scary, isn't it?
Regardless of where you went to school or how good your clinical/patient management skills may be, much of the success of your practice lies with your staffers. You chose them, you trained them and you pay their salaries... but have you taken the time to share the responsibility of the practice success with them?
When you speak to patients, is it "your" practice or "our" practice? Are the professional accomplishments of staff highlighted at staff meetings and posted on office walls along with those of the practitioners? (You do have regular staff meeting don't you? No partnership can ever succeed without routine communications.) Do you practice with your staff those common explanations and acceptable words/phrases that you use with patients so they can integrate them into their own vocabulary? Do you share new product information gathered from sales representatives and direct practitioner mailings? Do you provide a library of reading materials for staff home study? Do you encourage staff to pursue certifications in their field? Do you pay for tuition and travel so staff can annually attend regional/national professional continuing education meetings? Do you sit with staff and plan ongoing skills training and involve them in planning practice growth? Does your office suggestion box overflow with good ideas? It should.
Listen to Your Staff
I challenge you to listen carefully to your staff. When a staff member speaks, has she accepted the responsibility of sharing your practice? Is it "Doctor's" patient Mrs. Smith or is it "our" patient Mrs. Smith? Do staff members present each morning in professional attire, on time and ready to face the day? Are they eager to learn new skills or find more efficient methods improve patient flow? How many smiling staff faces do you see?
If the view into your practice is not what you want to see, start today. Talk honestly with staff members, set achievable practice and personnel goals and always remember to be the best example of the ethics, skills and compassion that defines today's successful eyecare practitioner. Finally, when was the last time you told your staff thank you for a job well done?
The past director of professional services for Bausch & Lomb, Ms. Beeman is now in clinical practice in Rochester, NY, and is a frequent guest speaker at leading academic and professional programs around the world.