By Robert "Rob" F. Melendez, MD
Young Ophthalmologist Committee
Interactions with patients
When meeting a patient for the first time, introduce yourself as "Doctor" and address them as "Mr." or "Mrs." Ask permission to call them by their first name. For instance, "Good Morning, Mr. Amsler" or "Do you prefer to be called Marc or Mr. Amsler?" Make a note of it in the chart.
- Remember the small details about your patient (child going to college, marriage, etc.)
- Add a sticky note to the chart for reference for the next visit (tape the sticky note to the chart or make a note in your electronic file).
- Patients requiring more time to discuss their issues should be scheduled at the end of the day (complicated cases, difficult personalities, or patients with family members seeking information). Let them know that you want to provide enough time to spend with them in order to answer all of their questions.
- It's all right to say, "I don't know, but I'll find out."
- Send e-mails to your patients on Web site references or articles related to their specific eye condition.
- Send birthday cards to patients. Ask the patient's permission to receive mail or email from the practice.
- Strive to improve your surroundings. (Re-organize the exam lanes, develop an educational video for your patients, etc.).
- Call patients the evening of their surgery.
Interactions with staff
Greet all the staff in the morning.
- Speak evil of no one.
- Listen attentively and remain approachable with staff.
- Ask often, "What can I do to make your job easier?" I like to say, "I'm like playdough. I am giving you permission to mold me into a better physician."
- Write clearly.
- Seek for ways to make your staff more efficient.
- Refrain from having people call you by your first name. Maintain a high level of respect for your staff and vice versa by having them address you as "Doctor".
- Thank your staff at the end of the day.
Interactions with Colleagues
Never be afraid to ask for a consult (help).
- Admit when you are wrong.
- Strive to learn from the patients you refer in order to improve your own skills.
- Ask for a follow-up on the status of a patient that you referred.
- Ask your colleagues questions related to the practice, clinical, and surgical skills.
- Provide new information to your colleagues with gentleness and respect. Remember, they still may be using older terminology. (For instance, Background Diabetic Retinopathy instead of Mild, Moderate and Severe Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy; Penetrating Keratoplasty (PKP) instead of PK; Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) instead of AMD.
- Always be willing to help; be the ultimate team player.
- Remember colleagues' birthdays and special family occasions. It is time to think beyond you; consider the needs of others above your own.
Interactions with Consulting Physicians
Introduce yourself to all of the optometrists, ophthalmologists, and physicians in your area. This will help build your practice.
- Dictate letters not only for Consults (which is required), carbon copy (CC) the letter to all doctors involved in the patient's care.
- Acknowledge referring doctor's diagnosis (especially if correct) in dictated letter.
- Provide information in your consult letter that is educational. Thank the individual in the letter for the consult and call them personally when possible. Providing a high quality letter will surely build your reputation.
- Attend many community functions to meet the public.
- Volunteer to speak at community organizations and health fairs.
- Coordinate a lecture series involving a broad spectrum of Physicians, from the podiatrist to the ophthalmologist; discuss Diabetes and the latest diagnostic and treatment modalities.
Be respectful of everybody, even when it is 2:30 in the morning.
- Remember, you have a specific skill that a person needs of you. Be grateful for the opportunity to serve them.
- Create a special on-call bag with all the instruments and drops you may need. Be prepared for any ophthalmic emergency.
- Obtain CPR certification and ACLS certification. Know the basics of emergency care (ABCs). Remember, we are physicians first.
Spend time with family and friends; get reacquainted with your family now that you are done with your formal training.
- Begin financial planning for you and your family.
- Get involved with your ophthalmology state society.
- Commit to improving one item in the organization for your state.
- Do not over-commit. Remember, studying for the boards is top priority.
- Remain enthusiastic -- after all, you are practicing ophthalmology.