Paraoptometric Career Ladder benefits the entire practice

Paraoptometric Career Ladder benefits the entire practice

Knowledgeable staff members are vital to successful optometric practices-which is why training and ongoing staff assessments are so important. The AOA recently launched a new member benefit that can revolutionize training and hiring for paraoptometrics and have a big impact on a practice's success.

"The Career Ladder is designed to improve productivity by providing an efficient and effective way to train staff."

The Paraoptometric Career Ladder, which is available to AOA-member optometrists and their staff, offers training and assessment tools to help optometrists and office managers determine office needs. Most importantly, it gives paraoptometric staff a solid understanding of the necessary skills and knowledge needed to perform their day-to-day job responsibilities. It also allows for setting future goals to build on their current level of knowledge by learning a new skillset or cross-training in a whole new job responsibility area.

"I believe that the AOA Paraoptometric Career Ladder will prove to be an important part of the development for the majority of paraoptometrics as they begin and progress throughout their career," says David A. Cockrell, O.D., AOA immediate past president.

Why should practices use the Paraoptometric Career Ladder?
"It is designed to improve productivity by providing an efficient and effective way to train new staff, as well as cross-train seasoned staff; no matter what their current level of skills and knowledge," says Beverly Roberts, CPOT, former chair of the work group for the Paraoptometric Career Ladder program.

Joan Abney, associate director of the AOA's Paraoptometric Resource Center, believes the benefits may impact the entire office. Most doctors conduct staff training themselves, or have another key staff member conduct staff training, taking valuable time away from patient care and often decreasing practice productivity. Now, the entire staff will have access to the Paraoptometric Career Ladder assessment tool to determine which areas need additional training, as well as the Career Ladder Roadmap which directs staff to the training materials to learn even more about the subject, Abney says.

In addition to the staff benefits, ODs are able to gain back valuable time—that was previously spent training—to see additional patients each day, follow up with patients and improve patient care.

"One of the challenges facing every optometric practice is trying to squeeze in time for staff training. Not only does training staff take key staff away from their regular duties, but an increased amount of stress is generated by staff having to cover others' job responsibilities during that time," says Roberts. "Unless the practice has an existing training manual that they use consistently, there may be gaps in training from one person to another, especially if the training takes place at different times for each staff person."

Who is the Paraoptometric Career Ladder designed for, and when should it be used?
One of the biggest benefits of the Paraoptometric Career Ladder is that it designed for new hires, as well as seasoned staff. It does not require paraoptometrics to be certified to use it. Optometric practices may use the tool to cross-train staff in new job responsibility areas as another means to increase productivity.

"Optometric staff may have expertise in one area, such as assisting the optometrist, but the Paraoptometric Career Ladder also provides a training roadmap for front desk, insurance processing, contact lens techs, optical staff, office administration, and for technicians" says Abney.

The AOA also recommends using the Career Ladder when evaluating staff's yearly performance, preparing staff for the certification examination, or even during staff meetings.

To learn more about the Paraoptometric Career Ladder and how it can be used in your practice, visit the career ladder information page or email PRC@aoa.org.

July 21, 2015

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