October 17, 2016
2 min read

Collegial interaction keeps optometrists engaged

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This evening I sat down to watch the first presidential election debate. I lasted all of 10 minutes. The optimist in me envisioned a lively debate, focused on core issues, with innovative solutions to any number of the problems plaguing America today. Instead, what I heard was typical political speak: doom and gloom, finger pointing, character assassination and broadly stroked proposals that were long on wind and short on substance. Indeed, it seems as though politics today is more about candidates and party lines and less about the constituents they serve. It is easy to see why voter apathy has become commonplace.

Unfortunately, all things political have a way of spilling over into health care, including optometry. ICD-10, electronic health records, PQRS [Physician Quality Reporting System] and other governmental mandates – while perhaps well intended – have impacted our practices in ways in which we could not have possibly imagined. Today, clinicians find themselves devoting more and more time toward administrative functions and spending less face-to-face time with patients. It is easy to see why clinician burnout and apathy, across all specialties, is on the rise.

Sir William Osler once opined, “By far the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy – indifference from whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness, from absorption in other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self-satisfaction.” It was sage advice then and, arguably, even more so now.

Michael D. DePaolis

With today’s health care climate fueling such apathy, how can clinicians remain focused on providing patient-centric care? Arguably, the best antidote for apathy might well be engagement – engagement in the form of a renewed interest in anything and everything optometric, an interest sparked by a curbside consult, picking up a journal, attending a CE meeting or even reaching out to a mentor. The backbone of engagement is that of collegial interaction. Nothing is more effective.

In this month’s issue of Primary Care Optometry News, we introduce PCON 250. While not intended to be an all-inclusive, definitive list, PCON 250 recognizes many of our profession’s prolific contributors. Each individual, through a lifelong commitment to innovative clinical care, research and/or academic pursuits, has helped advance the profession of optometry.

I think you will recognize, much like I have, a number of colleagues whose efforts have both inspired and enriched your professional life and, perhaps along the way, helped win the battle of apathy. We hope PCON 250 will act as a nidus for discussion on innovation in optometry. Please let us know what you think by contacting us at optometry@healio.com.