I’ve met a lot of Ophthalmic Technicians who were burned out, or lazy, or for some other reason just terrible at the jobs.
They were all kinds of people of varied ages, political views, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and none of those things seemed to play a role in how good they were at their job.
Most of us know what a bad technician looks like, but what goes into being great Ophthalmic Technician?
Great Ophthalmic Technicians Anticipate Need
Learn your doctor.
I once had a doctor yell at me, “That’s what I said, but that’s not what I MEANT.”
It may not be realistic to think an ophthalmic technician is a mind reader, but great ophthalmic technicians know what the doctor needs before they ask.
That might mean getting an OCT or fundus photo before the doctor sees the patient, setting up for a minor procedure, or preparing a consent.
Completing these tasks before they are requested can save valuable clinic time, and maintain the appearance of a cohesive and smooth running practice for the patient.
Great Ophthalmic Technicians Have The Desire to Educate
Explaining what you’re doing and why you do it is a vital part of your job as an ophthalmic technician.
“Educated patients are better patients.”
How many times has a patient told you the glaucoma drop they were given made no difference in their vision, so they stopped using it?
If you’re not sitting down with the patient after the doctor leaves, and having a brief conversation about side effects, as well as expectations before they leave their appointment, you’re not doing your job.
And maybe you did, maybe you have this conversation with the patient every time they come in. You could choose to believe that the patient is unteachable, or that they will never learn, or you could accept that probably, you need to adjust your teaching style to cater to this patient. It’s frustrating, and it leads us to our next importance quality.
Great Ophthalmic Technicians Have Patience
Maybe you do the same basic activities with 50 patients a day, but you have to remember they don’t.
Patients might only come in once or twice a year, or maybe they’ve never had an eye exam or visual field before.
This is where a great Ophthalmic Technician stands out; you know you’re going to room 2 when you call the patient back, but remember that they don’t, do walk with them, not six yards ahead of them, which will make them feel slow.
You might have to explain how to use the occluder, even though a board with a hole in it shouldn’t boggle the mind, they don’t make the patient feel stupid for putting their nose in the hole.
So, educate, explain, and make sure the patient knows that they are important.
Great Ophthalmic Technicians Have Speed
Ever work with that technician who goes into a room with a patient and disappears for 45 minutes?
Usually, this is the same person who prides themselves on patient care, because everyone likes the personable, friendly technician. Except for their coworker, who worked up six patients during at same 45 minutes, or the doctor, who is left waiting on the technician to finish so they can see the patient or God Forbid you need an instrument that was in that room because it’s going to be a while.
Patience and speed are not mutually exclusive, finding the balance between both is what makes a stellar ophthalmic technician.
Although some tasks require your undivided attention, multitasking, say, history taking while imputing medications, saves time.
You can catch with the patient, ask them about their weekend, while you do things like loud the phoropter, or input patient details into EHR.
Great Ophthalmic Technicians Have Empathy
Each one of these traits is the most important trait that an Ophthalmic Technician has, just at different times.
Empathy can be one of the hardest.
Great Ophthalmic Technicians often have years of experience, they’ve seen melanoma, and retinitis pigmentosa, and children with sight-robbing injuries, but the 42-year-old man who has had 20/15 vision his whole life and suddenly can’t read his cell phone believes he is suffering a massive tragedy, and as a great tech, you have to believe it too.
The alcoholic who skipped all their follow-up appointments but walks in with pain and a decrease in vision requires your empathy, not your scolding.
“The ability to put yourself in the place of someone else can help you better understand their motivation, and comforts the patients.”
Many of these qualities take years to develop, and they’re never mastered. One of the fatal flaws of ophthalmic technicians is believing that they’re done learning.
As long as you continue to learn and improve your skills, you’ll remain an invaluable part of the environment you work in.