Whether you work in corporate optometry, for another doctor or own your practice, being an eye doctor is never dull. That isn’t always a good thing because that can mean patient after patient to examine, a mountain of paperwork to fill out, send out or file and let’s not forget employees to deal with.
While it is very satisfying to do everything yourself and I’m guilty of doing whatever it takes, be it work late or on weekends to get tasks done; if you aren’t careful you can end up burning out.
“Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard this all before,” you must be saying now. “I’ve got a practice to run/job to do and if I don’t do it either no one will do it or it won’t get done to my liking.”
As great as you are, you aren’t immune to the side effects of working too hard, such as weight gain, trouble sleeping, less time connecting with friends and family. So, what can you do to avoid this. Many articles about burnout stress finding balance, the trouble with that is there will be times when you be very busy at work and even bring work home. Does that mean you failed at achieving balance? No, it meant that life happened and you had to deal with it. Things come up that need to be dealt with and you can’t always deal with them at a time that is “convenient”.
Of course, if you are optometrist or ophthalmologist, it is easy to feel satisfied since you are helping people to achieve good vision. Still, for those time when saying “Which looks better? A or B” makes you want to scream, that’s where having an avocation comes in. Do you like to be creative in your spare time? Do you feel passionate about a cause and volunteer your time? Having something other than dollar signs to chase after is what can help make the mountains of paperwork and the endless emails and phone calls seem less of a slog, since you have something to look forward to or believe in that is keeping you going.
It also helps to delegate non-medical tasks to your staff. Yes, I’m serious. You don’t have to fill out every form, an office manager can do that, you just need to sign the checks. You don’t have to run every vision test, an optician can do that, you just need to interpret the results. You are the doctor, so concentrate on the medical stuff, namely the eyes of your patients, not on adjusting eyeglasses or selling frames.
Another thing to consider are office hours. What are the best times for your practice to be open? Maybe your practice needs to stay open later one or two days a week in order to see the optimal number of patients. Then again, maybe not. As important as eye health is and being available for patients when they experience an eye emergency, you don’t need to conform to banker’s or even retail’s hours.
Working as an eye doctor can be challenging, so can working in all sorts jobs. It’s easy to fall into the habit of doing everything and working late to get it all done. Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said that it is important to take time to sharpen the saw. For those who don’t use saws in their line of work, that means reviewing how you do things and taking the time to make adjustments. Taking the time to review work practices and making the necessary adjustments will help you to work more efficiently. Being more efficient at work, means more profits for the practice and more of a life for you.