It is critical to never stop growing as an optometrist.
In the medical field, it is up to doctors to keep up with the times. As the field continues to advance and expand, we must continue to grow as well, in order to continue providing the best patient care, and there are a number of ways you can do that.
Growth has nothing to do with the type of modality you practice in, or where your office is located. There are avenues to become better doctors in all environments to facilitate better care.
How to identify those areas for growth:
Everyone graduates optometry school with a strong knowledge base and skill set that is honed in to examine every possible detail of the eye.
One area where a majority of graduates really lack those acquired skills when it comes to patient care involves patient relationship building and education. These are the kinds of skills that develop over time.
When you're lucky enough to work with a number of other doctors, you can pick up some skillsets and some of these tips and tricks from them as well, which really helps you grow as a doctor and better yourself.
Resources for expanding your skillset
In the digital age, we have access to more optometry magazines, articles, tools and resources than ever before. There are countless advancements being written about in the literature, whether they be optometry or ophthalmology specific.
Don’t forget about your colleagues. Whether it's a relationship with outside doctors within a specialty or subspecialty, or even whether it's within your own practice, you can work with your friends or colleagues to ensure that you're both growing together.
Seek a support system. You always run into cases in which you're not 100% sure what to do, and often help is a simple text away. Seek mentors and keep in constant communication with them. You can't practice in an isolation tank!
Knowing when you need to grow
The best doctors are those that never stopped growing and never stopped that pursuit of knowledge.
You can easily find yourself in a rut once you become comfortable in practice. You might find yourself treating a condition the same way every time. If you haven’t ever thought about or even tried changing your treatment approach for a specific condition, it might be time to start reading new literature.
Setting goals for professional growth
Goal setting is important not matter what career pathway you take. It’s all about having a passion. That's the first thing to know. The second is that you should never limit yourself in regards to what is possible to achieve.
You might ask yourself, what kind of doctor do I want to be? Where do I see myself practicing five years from now, 10? What do I envision retirement to be like?
These are all important questions that can greatly impact what kind of professional growth efforts you must take throughout your career.
Here are some steps for setting strong career goals:
- Be bold enough and courageous enough to write down your dreams no matter how far fetched they may seem.
- Write a strategic action plan on how you might achieve those goals, both long term and short term.
- Try and target one specific area or goal to focus on, and then determine how you might be able to integrate your other goals accordingly.
- Always make a point to revisit your goals and reassess.
By setting goals, you can find answers to situations or decisions you might need to make in life that impact both you professionally and personally.