Issue: July 10, 2020
Disclosures: Jackson reports no relevant financial disclosures.
July 02, 2020
3 min read

The last dance with MJ: Relevant premium practice leadership

Coming out of COVID quarantine, surgeons may have new leadership ideas for their practice.

Issue: July 10, 2020
Disclosures: Jackson reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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During the recent quarantine period from the COVID pandemic, many premium surgeons, like myself, had much time to reflect on how we can make each of our practices better than ever upon our return.

And to put any rumors to sleep, this MJ (Mitch Jackson) is not on his last dance or retirement stage but looking to bring better leadership than ever.

Mitchell A. Jackson
Mitchell A. Jackson

Although there may have been a bump in immediate cataract surgeries scheduled post-COVID, patients for the most part are still scared to return, with many wanting to wait until the end of summer to reschedule. Surprisingly, refractive procedures such as LASIK, PRK and SMILE have gained an unexpected bump in volume, maybe due to mask-induced glasses fogging or the younger age of the patients for these procedures, who may be less susceptible to COVID risks. Either way, our premium practices have evolved into bringing true leadership roles in paving the way to recovery.

From balancing rehiring furloughed employees to brainstorming enhanced ideas to recover lost revenue to developing safety PPE protocols for our patients, leadership has become critical. Darrell White in his mid-May Sunday Musing personal blog referenced leadership by way of the epic 10-part Michael Jordan Last Dance series and Steve Jobs approach to his empire success. Although many did not approve of either of these two famous approaches to bullying teammates or aggressively pushing the chain of command, in the end both ended up quite successful, with six championship rings and a company known as Apple basically controlling the entire digital world. Was it a toxic culture in reality or a culture that bred success in ways beyond expectation? Jordan’s only acceptable outcome was another championship win, and Jobs’ only goal was to win until the competition completely left the playing field.

Taking premium staff to the next level

Coming out of COVID, I decided to bring another level of success for my employees. Although they initially may have decided that this approach was a surprise, I only want success for their careers with potentially better outcomes for my patients. It never was a requirement before COVID, but certification to the next level for all of our technicians is now mandated to be completed in 1 year post-COVID. Basically, an ophthalmic assistant needs to get to a certified COA level, a COA needs to move up to a COT level, and a COT needs to elevate to a COMT level. No different from Michael Jordan or Steve Jobs — no toxicity but driving staff to the next level of education and certification in the premium practice world is the new norm post-COVID.


Clinical study reassessment

Recently was the celebration of Clinical Trials Day, and one of the main reasons I became an ophthalmologist was due to the partial loss of sight in my father at the young age of 8 years old. I dedicated my life as a premium surgeon to being involved in clinical trials throughout my 27 years in practice — bringing new medications, surgical procedures and products to reality either as a participating study site or as a medical monitor. My goal is to continue to honor my father and bring the best for my patients.

One post-COVID change I plan is to meet study enrollments even sooner and help push the envelope in getting studies I participate in closed sooner. My clinical study coordinators will be incentivized in a manner that makes clinical studies their primary priority moving forward. Although the last dance with this MJ is not tomorrow, I want to make sure my tenure as a premium surgeon will have made a difference before that day comes.

The real last dance

We have seen the stock market hit valleys and peaks of extreme levels during this COVID era, and my approach to dollar cost averaging over time has worked well since the days of 9/11. For me personally to reach the last dance, I have taken some newer methods to a successful, earlier retirement one day. Of course, 401(k)s are the gold standard, but deferred benefit plans allow larger retirement contributions with lower tax liabilities while opening the door for other profit-sharing options for staff as well. My last dance will never happen until my dream building opens next year with plans for office-based cataract surgery, state-of-the-art refractive surgical suites, a dry eye and aesthetic spa center, and a clinical research center in honor of my father.

Basically, the last dance with this MJ is not quite over yet so no worries, and I hope to make all my mentors, industry leaders and premium surgeon colleagues proud to be called a leader, no different from the MJ we all watched during quarantine.