Lessons Learned by a Former Little League Baseball Player

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO January 03, 2014

Of all my childhood experiences, Little League Baseball provided some of my most memorable life lessons. It was there where I learned what it took to really get better. I was so fortunate because my dad was always there to hit a few more ground balls for me to field, to toss a little extra batting practice, and to always make it fun. To this day, I love baseball!

Early on, it became clear that repetition would lead to improvement only when practicing proper technique. Trying to pull the outside pitch led to a lot of groundouts; I had to hit that pitch to the opposite field. Failure to get in front of a ground ball led to errors; I had to get my body in front if I was going to field the ball cleanly. Other methods were far less dependable. I had to be willing to change if I was to maximize my potential.

This principle certainly applies in optometric practice…case in point: patient communication. The goal in any consultation is to win the confidence of the patient. It should be clear that our communication batting average will rise with improved phrasing and delivery. And now, with the emergence of medical care in optometric practice, we have an increased need to maximize the connection with our patients.

A lot can be learned about patient care and communication through observation. In addition, we have the potential to improve faster when we emulate those who say it and do it best. So, I recommend that you listen carefully to your colleagues as you pursue greater effectiveness.

Optometry is a collegial profession and we certainly can learn from each other. In this age of volume medicine, I believe we will stand out from the rest if we continuously seek new and improved ways to relate to our patients. We just need to be humble, teachable, and willing to change.

As I See It, effective patient communication is critical in optometric practice. It is always a work in process and requires a desire to evolve and improve. So, learn to hit that outside pitch to the opposite field, learn to get your body in front of those grounders, and continuously seek improved ways to relate to your patients. I believe this is the secret to the very best in patient care and to a love of optometric practice which will last a lifetime.

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