Giving Back is a Blessing for Our Profession
‘Tis the season to be jolly—and give back. I’ve always loved this time of the year because everywhere I go, I’m reminded it is the season for giving. As an optometrist, any time of the year is a good time to be generous, but this time of the year especially helps me reflect on myself and my practice to see if I’m doing enough to give back to my staff, patients, and community.
Give back to the community.
I always like to partake in community events such as school fundraisers and youth sports functions. This helps the community as well as gets my practice’s name out there. For example, our local high school varsity basketball team puts together an annual invitational basketball tournament, and my practice always donates to the three-day event. I take pleasure in attending the tournament as well. It increases visibility for our practice, but the best part is that it truly helps the kids with their program.
Give back to your staff.
I find it very enjoyable and beneficial to have an annual holiday party for our staff to show my appreciation for their efforts over the course of the year. It’s a good way to kick start the practice before the new year, too. We schedule the event somewhere outside of the practice, have food catered, music playing, and all the new staff members (those who have joined the practice within the last year) perform for us by singing a song of their choice. This allows us to connect on a personal level, get to know each other’s loved ones, and boost morale.
Give back to your patients.
I find that most optometrists give back to their patients on a regular basis. Whether giving extra trial contact lenses so a patient has enough for a trip, or waiving a special fee insurance doesn’t cover to ensure great care at that moment, I’m proud to be in a profession where I see most of us regularly giving back. These acts remind me of why I went through eight years of college to get to where I am today.
I once went on a VOSH—Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity—trip to Bolivia where we provided over a thousand comprehensive eye exams in only four days. The trip was freezing cold—with temperatures reaching below zero—and a lot of work, but it was incredibly rewarding. Without the typical nuances of running a practice, I was able to focus solely on providing care for people in need. Although it appeared that I was helping them, they were truly helping me find my purpose as an optometrist. The countless hours of studying in optometry school, all the national boards exams, all the student loans (well, kind of) … it all feels worth it after receiving a hug from a Bolivian who desperately needed the opportunity to see clearly for the first time.
As I see it, I’ve learned that the more I give back, the more I’m reminded of why I joined this profession and what a blessing it is to have the ability to care for people. Therefore, I encourage you to focus on giving back this holiday season, and I sincerely hope you get to find your purpose as an optometrist with this incredible gift we possess of helping people see.
How are you giving back this time of year?