Christopher J. Babin, OD, and Charlene Walton, OD, are members of Optometric Physicians of Washington and among the 18,000 doctors listed on the Think About Your Eyes online locator. Think About Your Eyes is a nationwide public awareness initiative promoting the importance of an annual eye exam and overall vision health. First Vision Media Group supports Think About Your Eyes as a media partner.

Our staff is an integral part of our practices. They are an extension of the doctor, and their actions reflect directly on our patients’ perception of their visit. With that in mind, how do we maximize our staff’s potential while keeping their and our patients’ needs satisfied?

We believe the first part of this equation is providing the tools necessary to educate our staff regarding their specific job duties. We as doctors have a wealth of knowledge and should be active participants in educating our staff. This would take a lot of time and effort if we are doing all of this educating ourselves. Utilizing available resources is a key way to supplement the education we provide. The American Optometric Association, Vision Source and state optometric associations all provide educational resources and opportunities for office staff.

Motivating staff, once knowledgeable, can sometimes be challenging. As employees, one of our staff’s primary motivating factors is salary. Doctors, as employers, can make this easier simply by offering competitive salaries with benefits (including vacation and sick pay, health insurance and 401k plans). Another method is to provide bonus incentives. For optical departments, this could allow for bonuses once optical sales rise above a predetermined threshold. For schedulers, a bonus could be tied to the schedule being filled beyond a certain threshold. Metrics can be a very useful tool to motivate our staff.

Once we have staff we can trust and believe in, we need to do everything we can to maintain them. A large part of this is promoting office morale and providing a positive work environment so that employees enjoy coming to work. Our office enjoys taking part in out-of-office bonding opportunities. This includes activities that encourage staff to communicate with each other such as experiencing an “Escape Room” together, which requires good communication to solve puzzles and escape.

Other examples include hosting a barbecue, having an office team participate in fundraising walks or races, golf and bowling tournaments. These all serve the purpose of helping our staff feel like part of the team, and when our team is successful we are successful.

Our staff members are often the people our patients interact with the most. With Think About Your Eyes promoting the importance of annual eye exams and vision health, resulting in more than three million eye exams in 2017 alone, there’s never been a more important time to ensure you have a motivated and happy team in your office to take care of your patients.


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