A New Appreciation – Part One

There was a time not too long ago when it occurred to me that after 16+ years in Vision Therapy that my sense of “the business” of Developmental Optometry was pretty strong. Patients call. We offer them help. Vision Therapy programs begin and end. Everyone is happy.

Brace yourself. It’s completely untrue.

That is to say, Vision Therapy helps and people are happy, and that’s good.

But the process being simple.

Yeah, not so much.


For these last few weeks my schedule in the Vision Therapy room has been greatly reduced. Suprisingly, not for misbehavior – although you’d have a valid arguement – but because the are needs elsewhere in our office that very few people understand how to fulfill, for which yours truly gets nominated. See, when my doctor purchased this practice three and a half years ago, we were three employees running a fairly modest “primarily VT with a small optical” practice. Since the change over in ownership, our optical has vanished, our VT rooms have expanded, we’ve opened a second location, plans are in the works to move the original location to a much bigger space later this year, and our staff has more than quadrupled.  We’ve even recently created “departments” to divvy up the workload – VT, Billing, and Patient Care Coordinators – which was a huge step.  Not bad considering the first day our new doctor took ownership, the other two “orginal employees” resigned.

As an aside, coordinated departures by employees sound horrible, but it really wasn’t. If addition by subtraction were a theme park, the day they left was like a trip to Disney World. With free passes. And no lines. And free ice cream. Lots of it.

I spent day two doing cartwheels up and down the hallways.

Anyway, the one common denominator in all this change has been me. As the original employee of this now budding and booming practice, I’ve witnessed and been a part of every aspect of our growth, which from time to time means when someone needs training, my name is called – which, incidentally, is a role I completely embrace. It’s a badge of honor for me to say I am “the original employee” of this practice and to remind folks of how we’ve grown from just the doctor and myself to now a staff that is 12 strong in less than four years.

All this to say, lately I’ve been doing a lot less therapy, and a lot more reception-ing. But, let’s just be clear about a few things…

Am I capable of doing every job in the office?


Am I open to filling in if someone is sick?


Am I willing to stop and help anyone, at anytime, with just about anything?

Of course.

Is it a good idea to ask a Vision Therapist who relies heavily on instinct, intuition, and insight and prides himself on a free-flowing Socratic Method to sit in a heavily organized and highly detailed environment for several weeks without anticipating a few “misadventures”?

Well, let’s just say that if the New York Times were covering my recent experiences as a receptionist, tomorrow’s headline would read:



Ahem, perhaps this is a good time to remind everyone that I received an award in Vision Therapy a few years ago. 😉

If anyone ever tells you that working as a receptionist/administrator/front-desk staff in a busy medical practice is easy, chances are they’ve never tried it.  It takes a special kind of person to handle that type of position, and clearly, it’s not my forte.  But as I said, we’ve been growing pretty quickly and finding quality individuals to fulfill these roles takes time. So last December, when one of our then *star* receptionists had to move back to her hometown of Seattle so she could be near family while enduring major surgery, we had an empty chair.

We placed ads. We conducted interviews. We ended up with, well, the same empty chair.


So, a few weeks back, my doctor recommitted to finding someone of quality to help take us into the future, since the holidays are behind us and business is quickly picking up.  After all, there are days where the person who answers the phone IS the office, because if no one makes an appointment based on their confidence and communcation skills, we’re all going home. For good. We have one fantastic receptionist, and although she has tried and tried, it’s become fairly obvious that it’s a two or three person job. With that, part of recommitting to filling that chair is my “relearning” the front desk in preparation for training the next new hire. Translation for Robert: Answer the phone. Talk VT all day long (or until you can convince people of the benefits of VT). Don’t screw anything else up. When we find a quality person for you to train, rinse, lather, repeat.

Remember my original thought that this part was going to be simple?

Wrong again.


Posted on February 10, 2016, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Well stated as always, Robert. And to paraphrase my own mantra: “Give me any clinical challenge, and it pales in comparison with practice management”.


  2. Gary J. Williams, OD

    It is comforting to read how well your office is doing and crucial that we recognize that this has to be a team effort and that it is important that everyone’s job be done well – and with a smile.


    • Robert Nurisio COVT

      Thanks, Dr. Williams. It’s also an interesting exercise in appreciation to occasionally “switch roles” and the see the world from someone else’s chair. Stay tuned, it gets funnier 😀


  3. Oh boy,, we are also there right now. Having done reception work for a long time prior to VT, I can’t tell you how much I admire my front staff who hear all kinds of run-on ideas, thoughts, criticisms, etc., get interrupted every 2.5 seconds, and still manage to paste on a small both in person and on the phone. My thoughts are with you. Actually, everything is easy except the “don’t mess anything else up” idea. J


  1. Pingback: A New Appreciation – Part Two | VT Works

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