A New Appreciation – Part Two

When Dr. Len Press bestows his wisdom, it’s a pretty good idea to sit up and pay attention. That’s what I do.

“Give me any clinical challenge, and it pales in comparison with practice management” ~ Dr. Leonard Press

Presumably, he’s been there a few times, and knows my pain.

As shared in Part One, I’ve spent the better part of the last few weeks staffing the front desk. Yes, I am still in VT, but on a very limited basis for a few more weeks.  The plan is to hire and train someone soon. Hopefully, very soon!

Until then…


You know that feeling you get when a squirrel runs across the lawn, up your pant leg, and bites your kneecap?

Me either. But I’m fairly certain the shock involved rivals transitioning from a free flowing “tell me what you think” Vision Therapy environment to a “faxes go through the machine face down…unless, of course, you think other doctor’s office is interested in blank backside of those forms” environment. You’re not sure whether to laugh or cry, but either way, leaving your dirty tissues laying around is not an option.

At least with the squirrel, you’ve got a good story.

The main responsibility of a front desk person is to be the face of the office. To smile when patients arrive. To smile when patients depart. To smile when discussing the office on the phone. To smile as if smiling earned one a round trip ticket to a vacation destination of your dreams. Yes, there’s the billing, scheduling, and preparing the paperwork, and remember this should be done while smiling.

Wait, you mean I just faxed doctor so-and-so twelve blank sheets of paper? Wow, isn’t that fun!”

Maybe, he’s into recycling.

I’d like to pause for a minute and suggest everyone get up early Monday morning and buy donuts and flowers for their receptionist. Trust me, they deserve it.  Oh, and ask them if they’d like to take a nap midday. Even if napping is not in your employee benefits package, perhaps it’s time they look for a lost pen under their desk…for an hour. Maybe even two.

Again, well deserved.

Businessman with Tangled Cables --- Image by © Tim Pannell/Corbis

I’ve never been accused of being a linear thinker. Big surprise, right? I’ll reach the proverbial finish line in my own way, and in my own time, even if it takes a stream of consciousness project to get me there. The good news, I’ll get there. I tend to manage several thoughts at once, in hopes that one of them lands right-side up.  I can do the linear thing when I have to, but not without great effort, incredible focus, and self-management.  For better or worse, it’s just how I’m wired.  I share this because there are moments where performing in a non-linear thought process as a receptionist can be a very good thing, and there are times when there’s no worse quality to have.

Can’t the doctor fill out the exam form after the patient leaves?

I kid, it’s not that bad.


My point with all this is that, like with many other professions, there are some people that are cut out to manage a front-desk environment, and there certainly are some that are not. In case you haven’t yet determined, I’m certainly one of the “nots”.  But this little exercise has forced me out of my comfort zone – a challenge I always welcome, incidentally – and allowed me to view the office from someone else’s chair. It’s also forced me think outside of my little box in that things I never saw as troubling, suddenly have become so. I’ve come to understand how disruptive it is for a receptionist when an employee asks a meaningless question, or wants to make small talk.  I’ve come to understand the skill involved in calmly explaining to an irate parent why we do not just give away our services.  I’ve come to appreciate the ability so many wonderful front-desk types have in explaining that the relationship between patient and insurance carrier has nothing to do with us; rather, we are bound by the same rules that the patients find troubling. Oh yeah, and there’s that smiling thing we talked about. The good news for everyone, and by everyone I mean our staff – most of them read this and are about to do cartwheels up and down the hallway – is that my receptionist days are numbered. We’re actively searching for the best solution to fill our front-desk role, and when that person comes along, I’ll be back to full-time Vision Therapy.

Wait, you’re leaving soon? Bummer! 😉

Between now and then, if everything goes according to plan, I’ll continue to put in the extra time and extra effort to ensure our front desk runs smoothly. And if things don’t go according to plan, you’ll probably see me on the 6 o’clock news directing traffic in my underwear.

Either way, don’t forget; flowers and donuts on Monday morning.



Posted on February 13, 2016, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi Robert thanks for all the wonderful posts. Could you please add our vision therapist to the list. leanne.depalma@gmail.com. Thanks so much

    Trish Thompson Sent from my iPad



    • Robert Nurisio COVT

      Thanks, Trish. I cannot add followers; however, in the right column near the top of the page there’s a place to enter a new email address. That’s the way to go. Thanks for reading! 🙂


  2. Thanks for these posts, Robert. I received my “awakening” when our patient care coordinator was out of the office for 6 months due to illness. With 3 ODs, 5 therapists, 2 opticians and 4 phone lines to try to coordinate I gained a new humility – and also great respect for anyone who is brave enough to take on this position.


    • Robert Nurisio COVT

      I’ve reached the same conclusion these last few weeks, Linda. My attitude used to be “how hard could it really be?”. Now, I recognize how tough a job it really is. Certainly has been an exercise in humility. Thanks for reading! 🙂


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