I didn’t sign up for this!
When it comes to your own practice, ‘leadership’ comes with the job
There are many reasons for choosing a career in ophthalmology; for most it’s probably the blend of medicine and surgery, the appeal of the technical environment and the satisfaction of healing and helping. An interest in leading a business practice isn’t normally high on the list. Yet in real life it turns out that ‘leadership’ comes with the job. And the first task is knowing where you’re going.
Here’s how one business guru puts it: “All successful physician practices have a clear vision of their reason for existence… This can be referred to as the corporate culture or the core values of the company that clearly defines the values and preferred expectations of behaviour.”
LinkedIn recently sent out an article on ‘building a great company culture’. The piece is written by Claude S Silver, Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia. A ‘heart officer’ is not someone who deals with cardiac arrest in the office setting – In this case it turns out to be someone heading up what used to be called ‘Human Resources’. It’s Claude’s job to show love and empathy to the employees while monitoring their performance, thus motivating them to do their best for the team of which they are a part.
Without going so far as to employ a Heart Officer, if you’re ready to consider sharpening up your office practice, an internet search turns up an article that outlines the ‘10 hallmarks of leadership in an ophthalmologists practice’. Realistically enough, it begins by flagging up the need to find the time: “At least eight additional hours per week on top of your core job as an ophthalmologist.” And just as realistically the author points out that: “ophthalmic microsurgery is the domain of slow, cautious, 100% perfection. Ophthalmic leadership is the domain of well-intended, timely approximations of 80% perfection. Or less. … get on with it.”
The article ends with this cautionary note: “Most patients can choose from whom they receive care. Even if they love the ophthalmologist, they might go elsewhere if the office is poorly run. As a physician, you’re more than just the doctor. You must also be an effective organiser and facilitator of a large group of staff.”
Whether you have a “large group of staff” or simply one or two overworked employees, a checklist of who does what in an ideal world – an outline of the ‘five key roles in the ophthalmic practice‘ – is a useful checklist.