God Bless Private Practice

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO July 08, 2011
Every day we go to work trying to do the very best job for our patients. And yet, the impressions that patients sometimes get never cease to amaze me. My favorite, of course, is for one of my patients to tell me that they like me a lot better than their last eye doctor. I appreciate the compliment until I look in the record and find out that the previous doctor was ME.

Such is the life of the private practitioner. We get credit for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Patients love us when we connect with them on a personal level—whether family, a hobby, or an event—and solve their problems to boot. But, they are unhappy when their frame breaks, when they wait too long to see the doctor, or when their new glasses are overdue. And they really get riled up when we drip Fluress® on their shirt or tell them their frame is no longer under warranty. Sometimes we just can’t get a break.

When all is said and done, a bond is formed that keeps patients coming back for more. They choose us for better or worse. We, doctors, are always trying to relate to our patients and our patients are trying to get to know their doctor. It is this mutual connection that forms a relationship that lasts a lifetime. But, wow, patient reactions can be so different.

As an example, we recently remodeled our office adding new color, new furniture, and a new look and feel. Some patients noticed right away and appreciated the improvements. Some simply had no clue that things had changed. And yes, some even “teased” us for making the improvements at their expense since our fees were “so high.” All we could do was smile and hope that most appreciated the efforts.

I guess I am looking forward to the day when a patient tells me that he likes me, the younger doctor, better than the older doctor he saw last time (also me). If this scenario means that I might be mistaken for the younger doctor, I guess I had better restructure both my hairdo and my exit strategy.

Well, got to go…I see that Mrs. Jones has arrived. She is convinced that her new frame is not the one she selected and is certain that we switched frames on her. But not to worry, I just read that her grandson made the honor roll. I think we’ll be OK.

God bless private practice!

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