Enthusiasm In Practice

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO April 19, 2013

There is no doubt about it—we optometrists have the best job in the world. We help our patients see better, and in the process, improve their quality of life. Pretty cool! Can you think of a better reason to go to work?

Yet, it is so easy to get caught up in our daily routine. We can get all concerned about our schedule and any one of a dozen other problems. We can get in a hurry and end up losing our edge with our patient. The end result, a low energy exam and an uninspired patient experience.

What do patients expect from their doctor? They certainly expect excellent care, but beyond that, I am sure they also want to see the doctor who is excited to see them. They want our undivided attention. They want the doctor who is fired up…you know, the one with energy.

So, how do we demonstrate energy? I would submit that the best place to inject some energy is in our personal interaction. Let’s start by looking them in the eye, flashing a smile, and offering a brisk handshake. Next, get them to tell a story about themselves—you will enjoy it. Follow with an interesting story about yourself, one they can remember. When you are all done, show them your pearly whites and say thank you. There is nothing earth shattering here, but this is so critically important. Patients will remember the energetic doctor, the one who took a personal interest in them.

We are living in the age of volume medicine, vanilla presentations, and impersonal care. Too many doctors spend more time staring at their computer trying to enter findings into the EMR than they spend interacting with their patient. We have the opportunity to stand out. How about setting a goal of making every patient encounter memorable? Now that is something to aspire to.

Enthusiasm is contagious. If I feel it, my staff will feel it, and my patients will feel it. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. If I am low in energy, the result will be a bland experience for everyone. Enthusiasm is the glue that forms the bond between doctor and patient. It’s the secret formulae which turns a satisfied patient into a referring patient. Talk about an effective recall program!

So, as I see it, if we really want to exceed the expectations of our patients, we need to draw inspiration from our mission: we help our patients see better, and in the process, improve their quality of life. Each and every patient deserves not only our very best care but also our most energetic delivery. Patients are looking for the enthusiastic doctor, because that’s one they can relate to. Let’s be sure to give them the sizzle along with the steak!

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