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  • How to Train -- and Retain -- Ophthalmic Technicians

    AAOE: Are you seeing any new trends in hiring technicians?

    Shuman: Several factors have increased the need for ophthalmic techs, which has outpaced the current supply: Many new diagnostic technologies, baby boomers requesting care at previously unseen rates and an increase in in-house subspecialty services.

    As a result, many practices, particularly mid-large sized ones, have begun hiring people without eye care experience and training them on the job. To retain such people, it’s important that they feel contributory and productive at their job. That requires a structured approach to training that sets staff up for success.

    Why should a practice offer structured training?

    There are a limited number of accredited ophthalmic assisting programs that expose people to this exciting field so practices have had to get creative. It is no longer acceptable to do what has always worked, which was to train new techs when the doctor(s) was out of the office.

    Practices today need to invest in their new staff the way they do with new equipment. If you provide clear expectations to the new hire, and check in regularly with reassurance when appropriate, the trainee will feel questions are welcomed and continue to learn.

    I believe that new techs can learn the basics of the job in 12 weeks, coinciding with the orientation period. They should be able to perform a comprehensive work up as long as the mentor has been given the tools and time necessary to work with the trainee.

    But management must provide regular feedback; the doctors have to be part of the positive and negative comments as they are the ones most impacted by the work.

    I also recommend that whenever possible, the new hire shadow either several patients through their journeys or observe the doctor as s/he examines the patients. I have been told countless times, that scribing, or at least listening to the doctor, completes the clinical picture. This helps trainees become better technicians.

    Every practice is different and there is no one formula for hiring and training new clinical staff. And although a framework can be provided, it may have to be modified to the nature of the practice and unanticipated events. We’ll talk about all this more in detail during the webinar on Oct. 10.

    Plan to attend Recruit, Train and Retain Qualified Technicians. Practices all over the country are struggling to recruit and retain qualified technicians. A winning strategy to overcome this challenge requires an effective training and retention program. This 60-minute webinar, technician training expert, Jane Shuman and practice administrator, Joy Woodke will help you develop consistent and effective tools that produce highly skilled professionals, leading to increase profitability and improved quality of care.

    Live Webinar: Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017
    2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT / Noon MT / 11 a.m. PT

    Note: Webinar recording will be available to all attendees at no additional charge.

    About the Author

    Jane T. Shuman, MSM, COT, COE, OCS, CMSS, a member of the Academy's Consultant Directory and president and founder of Eyetechs, Inc., is a nationally recognized authority on clinical flow, scheduling and technician education. She worked in a high volume ophthalmology practice for over fifteen years and founded Eyetechs Inc. in 1999.