4 tips to elevate the profession and educate the public

October 18, 2023
Use your voice to inform patients of the importance of eye health and vision care provided by AOA optometrists.
Communicating in Optometry

Excerpted from page 43 of the September 2023 edition of AOA Focus

Doctors of optometry can play an important role in elevating the profession and educating the public—ultimately improving patients’ eye health. But how do you do this all on your own?

Jen Wademan, O.D., uses the visual power of Instagram to educate consumers and reach potential patients.

“I love patient education; I love talking about why eye care is important,” says Dr. Wademan, owner of Bidwell Optometry in Folsom, California. “I love that aspect of advocating and elevating eye care, then transforming that into relatable content online. In the exam room, I’ve always loved figuring out, ‘OK, how do I communicate this condition to the patient? How do I make it so it’s digestible so they can adapt this into their day-to-day routine?’”

Here are four things to keep in mind as you get started.

1) Be clear about your goal and your audience.

Ask yourself why you are doing this and who you want to reach. That will help determine the best avenue and how to start. For example, if you want to get involved on social media, Instagram and Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok, all have very different audiences. You’ll want to do a bit of homework and find where your audience is more likely to be.

2) Choose a platform you will enjoy.

Consistency is important with public outreach. But if you are not having fun, it will fall off your to-do list. If you aren’t personally interested, consider recruiting a reliable staff member to oversee the efforts—but choose someone who also will enjoy it, not see it as drudgery or hard work piled on their already busy plate.

If you’re comfortable in front of a microphone and camera, reaching out to local media outlets to pitch important eye health story ideas may be right for you. Make sure to have a couple of succinct, easy-to-explain bullet points. During the interview, be sure not to go off on tangents or long explanations. Always circle the interview back to your main talking points.

3) Determine your brand and stick to it.

What best fits your personality and what are you comfortable with? On social media, for example, your posts should look like the same person or practice published them, with a consistent and recognizable tone and theme. That doesn’t mean you can’t be funny and show your personality. But your followers should know what type of content and tone to expect from you.

4) Just start.

“Have fun with it,” Dr. Wademan says. “When you feel like you have to do it, it’s not benefiting anybody.” The advice and tips online can be endless and always changing, she says. Try not to get overwhelmed. Don’t compare yourself to other brands. People want authenticity, not overly glossy videos and messaging.

“Just start small and just start somewhere,” Dr. Wademan says. “Don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself; you don’t have to create this whole big thing. Put something together and then you can build off of that.”

Leverage the AOA’s national public awareness campaign

In its third year, the AOA Eye Deserve More campaign continues to amplify the eye health conversation across digital, social and media platforms. The successful campaign has reached millions of people in the U.S., driving home the importance of in-person, comprehensive eye exams with AOA doctors of optometry. Find campaign resources and materials, including digital ads, creative assets and social media content.

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