Monday, December 15, 2008

The sky is not falling - ophthalmology will survive

The Obama feel-good factor was not shared by all of those attending the joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) in Atlanta, Georgia, US.

Big drops in the share price of the leading ophthalmic companies and reports from individual doctors of a reduction of more than 40 per cent in LASIK procedures in the last three months have put a dampener on the post-election celebrations for some doctors.

The global economic meltdown is showing up on the bottom line of finance companies specialising in LASIK and other discretionary medical procedures. Capital One and Care Credit both reported a slowdown in business in the past two months. Tightening credit standards mean it’s getting harder to qualify some patients for loans and default rates on outstanding commitments are climbing.

But every cloud has a silver lining and one of the biggest growth areas in the next 12 months will be the market for practice management consultants and practice management seminars.
Ophthalmologists in the desperate search for a bang for their buck can expect to be bombarded with literature inviting them to pay top dollar for seminars on topics including, "Good news in a depression" and "The sky is not falling".

But ophthalmology, like other medical disciplines, should not be just about money and while doctors should also listen to the advice of practice management experts and other economic consultants, they should also set themselves standards that they will strive to achieve in good times and bad times.

This point was emphasised at the Meet the Masters presentation, sponsored by AMO, where residents attending the AAO/SOE meeting were invited to hear pearls of wisdom from Dr Michael Colvard (pictured above), Dr Bobby Osher and Dr Ralph Chu.

We won't go into a speaker-by-speaker check list of the individual messages from the masters but below are some of the pearls of wisdom they offered to the young doctors attending the meeting.

* Never ridicule anyone's new idea.
* People will forget everything you tell them but they will never forget how you make them feel.
* It's a very small world. Be honest when you speak.
* Always ask yourself what do you like doing and be passionate about what you do.
* It's not always about economic gain.
* Don't allow yourself get stale.
* Treat your patients like you would treat your families.
* You can't always cure but you can always comfort.
* Nobody can train you how to develop emotionally as a doctor.
* Never get cocky about your surgical skills.

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