Article updated June 29, 2023
Graduation marks the end of your formal medical education. You’ve spent years learning how to be the best ophthalmologist you can be, but now it’s the beginning of your “real world” education and gaining a well-rounded, functional understanding of practice management concepts is essential.
Yet practice management and business skills are not typically taught in medical school, residency, and fellowship. Fortunately, you can gain mastery through practical experience and the comprehensive resources offered through the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives® (AAOE®). AAOE is the Academy's practice management affiliate, here to help you manage the business side of ophthalmic practice. Its content is free to members in training and for their first year in practice.
As you gain practice management insights, you can earn a more prominent leadership role in your practice or health organization. Perhaps you can start or buy your own practice? By gaining a seat at the table, you can nurture the work environment of a job that you truly care about.
Here are a few high-yield topics covered by AAOE:
- Negotiation: If you’re locked into a bad deal from the start, your business will be hampered for a very long time. How can you broker the best agreement from the get-go?
- Starting a practice: Like any other entrepreneurial pursuit, you’ll need a nuanced business plan if you decide to open a new practice. Who are your competitors? Is the market saturated? What is your cost structure? What is your payer mix?
- Partnership: Though it may sound great, owning a practice yourself can be difficult. For example, you’re the one fielding all of the business-related problems and getting paid last. What qualities should you be looking for in a potential partner to help mitigate this risk?
- Running a practice: There are many different players involved in order to lead a successful practice. How will you go about recruiting useful consultants to help you with contracting, billing, accounting, IT, legal, and marketing?
- Wealth building: You might get paid less as an owner of a practice, but you are building a valuable asset for the future. What are the differences in being taxed as an employee versus an owner? What are the tax advantages of owning a business? How can you use your business to pay for commercial real estate? How does your office’s square footage generate revenue?
To help you build a roadmap for success, the AAOE has all of the resources you need at aao.org/practice-management/. Here’s a peek:
- Practice management advice. You can find hundreds of articles written by the experts and featured in AAOE’s Practice Management Express email newsletter. Topics include everything for ophthalmologists, including insurance basics, negotiating vendor contracts, successfully buying and selling a practice, when to buy versus lease office equipment and more.
- Practice management videos. AAOE also offers more than 100 instructive short videos, webinars and course recordings on demand. Learn about the benefits of taking a tax loss, how to implement telemedicine into practice, the principles for successful long-term investing, tips on employment law and more.
- Practice Management Program at AAO 2023. The 2023 AAOE program offers essential career development content during ophthalmology’s largest annual gathering. Empower your entire team with expert-led courses, in-person networking with peers and valuable takeaways that you can share among staff and immediately implement into practice. The program includes more than 70 live and on-demand instruction courses, Friday intensive classes and coding sessions, conversations with experts and more.
- Coding and reimbursement advice. AAOE also provides vital tools to enhance your knowledge of appropriate coding and documentation so that you can receive proper reimbursement. Here you can attend a virtual four-hour nationwide tour of expert coding instruction, find the latest coding and reimbursement products at the Academy Store, view the most recent details on coding for injectable drugs, and more.
- Ophthalmology Job Center. Odds are you’ll change jobs at least once in your career. So how do you land the perfect one? Post your CV to the Ophthalmology Job Center and search jobs for free. This portal puts practices directly in touch with you and offers enhanced posting options to heighten the visibility of your ad.
Regardless of whether you are entering a solo or group private practice or at a larger institution, AAOE can help you navigate your career and empower you to make savvy practice management decisions.
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Arvind Saini, MD, MBA,
is a cornea specialist at Integrity Eye in Escondido, Calif. He has served on the Academy’s Technology, Young Ophthalmologist and Communications committees and as an AAOE board member.