On Employee Appreciation Day, show your staff you care by encouraging their development

March 3, 2017
A highly trained staff can contribute to boosting office efficiency and patient outcomes.
On Employee Appreciation Day, show your staff you care by encouraging their development

Steven T. Reed, O.D., AOA trustee, and his staff rallied to meet 50 business goals in 2016, and ultimately took a trip to Hawaii in January to celebrate.

On this Employee Appreciation Day, Jacqueline Bowen, O.D., is showing gratitude to her 15-member staff by encouraging them to be all they can be on the job.

Dr. Bowen, an AOA trustee who co-owns and operates a practice in Greeley, Colorado, with Ron Mearsha, O.D., and Amber Busche, O.D., has challenged her paraoptometric staff to get their certifications, or take their current certifications to the next level, by August 1. The expectation in the practice, Dr. Bowen adds, is that everyone there continues to grow their skills whether they be a doctor of optometry or a member of the front-office staff.  

All of this is for the sake of providing exceptional eye care to patients.  

"I'm looking forward to celebrating our 100% certified practice in August, and I am proud of our staff for their ambition," says Dr. Bowen. "Most importantly, I anticipate a whole new level of excellence in patient care. There will be a distinctive air of pride and confidence among our staff, even greater than there is now."  

She adds, "We believe that, regardless of your daily duties, the more you know about what we do, the better we can serve our patents. For example, if a potential patient calls, 'shopping around', and our front desk staff is able to tell them something about what they will experience in the exam, that is very valuable to the practice. It also ensures a more cross-trained staff so when we have a need—we're suddenly slammed or half the staff is out for training or continuing education—someone else on staff can fill in."  

Toni Ortega, CPO, is office administrator at Dr. Bowen's practice, See Life Family Vision Source. Ortega is working on her certification as a paraoptometric assistant (CPOA). Three members of the practice's staff are certified paraoptometrics (CPOs).  

A 100% certified staff would be a point of practice pride, she adds.   "What it would mean to me to lead a fully certified team would be a sense of maturity for the practice," Ortega says. "As a certified team, we would all have the same level of competence in our areas of expertise. We could speak freely using language everyone would be familiar with. Also, having this highly qualified team, we would have 'bragging rights' to announce that our team is fully trained and certified on our website."  

Staff development tools

The AOA provides plenty of resources so doctors of optometry can support staff development. Among skill-developing resources from The Paraoptometric Resource Center (PRC) are:

  • Information and materials on various certifications.
  • The Paraoptometric Career Ladder, which is a step-by-step guide to assess staff members' skill levels and determine what additional training and study materials are needed for their growth, whether they are new to a practice or being cross-trained.
  • Continuing education (CE) materials, which include six free hours of CE credit for taking the PRC's online articles and quizzes.

Learn more about optometric staff development tools. Doctors of optometry can enroll staff members for AOA associate membership at no additional cost.

Staff appreciation   

Appreciation comes in different forms.  

Steven T. Reed, O.D., an AOA trustee who practices at Family Vision Clinic in Magee, Mississippi, and his staff rallied to meet 50 business goals in 2016. As goals were met, the staff celebrated in small ways. The big payoff came in January when several staff members headed to Hawaii—a reward for meeting the goals.  

"Needless to say the trip was fantastic," says Dr. Reed. "Rallying around a yearlong goal required extra diligence to ensure that everyone stayed on task. Our office manager, Beverly Roberts, CPOT, continually motivated them along the way, while our mid-level managers worked to ensure that our sub-products and stats were on track. Our progress was discussed daily. We developed an incredible team and a true work family. Even though our goal was based on revenue, I saw our staff continue to go above and beyond to provide exceptional patient care. I couldn't be more pleased with the results."

"The trip was all that the staff had hoped it would be," says Roberts. "We were able to do most everything on the bucket list of each staff member. There were so many moments of fun to remember. Some of the special things were the beautiful sunrises each morning and having a week of stress-free rest. We have an amazing team that can set their minds to accomplish most anything and get it done."

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