We’ve heard it numerous times that during their education eyecare professionals are not frequently exposed to business management information. Nearly as often, we hear that staffing is the number one business-related issue that managers of eyecare practices and optical dispensaries must contend with.

All year we’ve brought you a series of articles on business topics in VCPN’s Business Solutions section (Strategy, Company Culture and Leadership), and this issue continues offering business-related articles, specifically focusing on topics related to human resources (Hiring, Motivating and Maintaining Staff).

Given today’s employment landscape, the need for these staffing articles has never been more necessary. Based on the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in May 2018 from 3.9% during the previous month. It was the lowest rate since April 2000. That reality points toward continued competition for effective employees.

Employment predictions for the optical field are even rosier. Specifically for eyecare professionals, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2016 to 2026, employment of opticians is projected to grow 15%, while employment of optometrists is projected to grow 18% during the same time period. These growth rates for both opticians and optometrists are described as “much faster than average for all occupations.”

The reasons for this are clear, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will lead to demand for more eyecare professionals. The growth in the older population is anticipated to lead to greater demand for eyecare services. Increasing rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes also may increase demand for eyecare services because some chronic diseases cause vision problems. Additional eyecare professionals will be needed to fill prescriptions for corrective eyewear for individuals with conditions that damage their eyesight.

As demand for eyecare professionals grows “much faster than average” over the next decade, the best way that practice managers can prepare for this is to plan, and this month’s articles on Hiring, Motivating and Maintaining Staff are designed to help you do exactly that. The relevance of these articles to the optical field is optimal because they are written not just by businesspeople but by businesspeople who are also eyecare professionals who have also made it their specialty to manage employees in this particular field.

Their advice couldn’t be more appropriate, offering such pearls as “Don’t eat when hungry,” referring to the practice of hiring before there is an urgent need to fill a position; “Take the time to write a really great ad,” to sell the job by making it sound positive and exciting; and “Ask your employees what their goals are, and then let them know what the company’s goals are,” to ensure that both are in sync, to reference just a few.

The growing need for experienced eyecare professionals is coming to your practice, that is unless you are experiencing it already, and you must prepare for it or be left behind. Review the sound advice in this issue of VCPN based on the many decades of cumulative years of experience that those who wrote these articles have generously shared with you. It will go a long way toward preparing for your future staffing needs, while making sure you “Don’t eat when hungry,” which could result in bad staffing decisions.

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