Optometry Student to Successful Optometrist: Caring for Your Patients

In my interview with Dr. Chad Fleming OD, FAAO, Business and Career Coach at AOAExcel, he mentioned 3 key attributes that any optometry student must have if they want to become a successful optometrist:

  1. Communication
  2. Initiative
  3. Caring for patients

When Dr. Fleming mentioned “caring for patients” as one of his 3 most important attributes an optometry student needs to develop in order to be successful, I didn’t quite understand at first.  I thought to myself, “Isn’t it our job to care for our patients’ ocular and visual health?” Dr. Fleming Dr. Fleminghelped me to understand that there is a difference between caring for patients and the care of your patients. He went on to explain that it is very easy to get into a rhythm when seeing patients, potentially getting lost in this process while not slowing down to develop a friendship with them.

Dr. Fleming’s three advantages of caring for your patient:

  1. Patients are more likely to listen to a friend that just so happens to be their eye doctor than just another eye doctor.
  2. Patients are more likely to support (buy glasses, contact lenses) someone they know who truly cares about their health.
  3. Patients are more likely to refer their friends and family to an OD that is friendly.

While working as an extern at Magna Family Eyecare, I have found that when I take the time to talk with my patients for a few minutes and get to know them, they are much more receptive to my recommendations for glasses, contact lenses, treatment plans, etc. I’ve also found that when there is a patient who isn’t happy with the service they received, there’s a great opportunity to exceed the patient’s expectations and make them happy. Once the patient’s problem is resolved and he/she is happy, the patient can become a walking testament to your service and care for them.

I want to thank Dr. Fleming for his insight and words of wisdom. I have tried to put into practice everything that he told me during this interview and I can say without a doubt it makes a difference. I have received plenty of compliments from ODs as well as patients about the great experience they have had during an eye exam. I would challenge anyone to try gaining these 3 attributes and watch the affects they have on your patients and your experience as a clinician.

If you missed Part 1 or 2 of this series, take a look:

Part 1: Communication

Part 2: Initiative

Please feel free to comment below with any tips you may have from your experiences!



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