Why ophthalmologists need to learn to say NO – sometimes

Colin Kerr

Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Illustration: Eoin Coveney

Illustration by Eoin Coveney


I suspect that most ophthalmologists don’t read the Financial Times (FT). This is probably because its core content concerns the world of industry and commerce rather than eye surgery.

If you hold shares in one of the ophthalmological market leaders, then the FT should be required reading. If not, it is unlikely to be one of your go-to newspapers.

But every now and then, the paper publishes an article that is of universal interest, so it is worth keeping an eye on.

I recommend that all eye surgeons, regardless of age or experience, should read this excellent article by Lucy Kellaway which is syndicated in The Irish Times.

Kellaway is an Associate Editor and management columnist of the FT and for the past 15 years her weekly Monday column has poked fun at management fads and jargon and celebrated the ups and downs of office life.

In her “Just Say No” article, she argues that the great challenge is to spot when to stop saying no and start saying yes.

” I say yes to things I a) have to do; b) want to do or c) ought to do,” says Kellaway.

So, if you’re a busy ophthalmologist, when should you say no? You have a duty of care to your patients, so you are unlikely to say No to them, unless you have a very good reason. There are a lot of things you want to do, but you can only do these things within the constraints of your daily and weekly schedule. There are many things you ought to do, but again, can you find the time to do these things outside of your normal operating hours?

This is a topic addressed by my colleague Dr Leigh Spielberg in his excellent EuroTimes column. In an article he wrote three years ago, he looked at the pressures of having to say ‘no’ in a busy operating theatre.

The oldest resident in an eye hospital

He concluded the article stating:

“Time-management, multi-tasking, and delegating responsibility become the keys to success, and it takes quite a while to learn it all.”

Words to the wise!