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13 holiday dos and don’ts for ODs


It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for ODs, the holidays can get a little hectic both outside and in the office.

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for ODs, the holidays can get a little hectic both outside and in the office. 

In addition to shopping, planning family events, holiday parties, your practice is probably busier than ever. Your patients wait until the last weeks of the year to use their benefits-and then no-show on their appointment.

We asked members of our Editorial Advisory Board to share some of their own advice about the dos and don’ts of the holidays.

Do: Take time for yourself and your family

Regardless of your profession, the holidays can be a very busy time-but for ODs, the end of the year can often be one of the busiest times in the practice. That’s why our first do is to take time for yourself and your family. Here’s what our board members had to say:

“Don't neglect yourself. In other words, take plenty of time off for you and your family. You only go around once,” says Kirk Smick, OD.

“Take advantage of the downtime created by a slower schedule and prioritize your family's full observance of the holiday,” says Patricia Modica, OD, FAAO.  

“Make time for your priorities-we're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time. And, remember to be grateful for your good fortune,” says Leo Semes, OD.



Do: Ask about prescriptions

Patients are busy too, so Marc Bloomenstein, OD, FAAO, says his holiday do is to remind patients to refill their prescriptions before the end of the year.

“Ask about filling prescriptions. Most patients have met their deductible,

and getting them to fill an Rx now is in their best interest,” he says.  



Do: Remind patients about flex spending accounts

Along the same lines, Danica Marrelli, OD, FAAO, recommends reminding patients about using their flex spending account funds.

“Send reminders about flex spending accounts that may end on December 31, and remind patients to book early,” says Dr. Marrelli.



Do: Help your Medicare patients schedule an appointment

It’s all about getting the most out of your benefits before the end of the year, so Dr. Smick has a recommendation for your Medicare patients.

“Run a report of those patients with Medicare who are late for an appointment so they can go toward this year’s deductible,” he says.  



Do: Learn from your mistakes this year

Having a hectic holiday? Try to learn from your mistakes.

“Whatever causes you to scramble at the end of the year-metrics/orders/whatever-put systems and deadlines in place now to tackle it at intervals next year,” says Crystal Brimer, OD.



Do: Remember to thank your staff

You wouldn’t be able to do it all without them. The holidays are a great time to show your appreciation for your staff.

“Do take time to let your staff and colleagues know how much you appreciate them-for staff, end-of-the-year bonuses go a long way toward helping them pay for Christmas!” says William Townsend, OD, FAAO.

Related: What eyecare providers are thankful for


Do: Plan ahead

Like it or not, 2016 is just around the corner, so take some time to plan ahead for what you’d like to see your practice achieve in the coming year.

“Plan your activities for next year-sales, promotions, or trunk shows, “says John Schachet, OD. “Be proactive.”

And don’t forget to plan for your future, too. Whether retirement is years or decades away, A. Paul Chous, OD, MA, has some great advice.

“Fully fund any qualified retirement plan before year’s end!” he says.



Do: Throw a holiday party (Plus a holiday-party don’t)

“Do throw a fun holiday party,” says Justin Bazan, OD.

Wait for it-that’s not the end of his advice:

“Don’t drink too much at the holiday party,” says Dr. Bazan.



Don’t: Overspend

It can be easy to go overboard at the mall during the holiday season with all the sales, but Jeffrey Anshel, OD, FAAO, has good advice.

“Don't spend money you don't have,” he says.

Related: Top 10 patient horror stories


Don’t: Forget about dry eye

The temperature is dropping, winds are blowing, and it just might be snowing. That’s a lot to handle for the eyes! Keep that in mind with every patient in your chair.

“Don't overlook dry eye,” says Dr. Bloomenstein. “Winter is the craziest time of the year for dry eyes!”



Don’t: Wait until the last minute

You’ve got a lot on your plate right now, so it can be tempting to put off the more stressful aspects of practice management off until later.

“Don't wait until the last week of the year to realize you need to buy equipment or invest into retirement for tax purposes,” says Dr. Brimer. “Have those numbers ready by early December and have your ‘next purchase’ already researched and in queue.”

Pam Miller, OD, FAAO, JD, agrees.

“Do try and finish up all reports, taxes, and bills prior to Christmas-it minimizes your headaches and gets the New Year off to a fresh start,” she says.



Don’t: Forget to plan for bad weather

Whether you’re driving to the mall or flying across the country, keep in mind that weather can change in an instant during this time of the year.

“Don't cut your travel time too close if you live in the northern states,” says Mile Brujic, OD, FAAO. “Although we pride ourselves on driving well in the snow, we have to take into account everyone else on the road.”



Don’t: Forget about what the holidays are all about

In the midst of last-minute appointments, shopping trips, and end-of-year wrap up, take some time to remember what this time of year is all about. Check out the wise words of advice from our board members:

“Don't lose track of the meaning of the holiday because you are too wrapped up in the preparation and work,” says Dr. Modica.  

“Don’t neglect to show your support for those who are close to you professionally and personally,” says Dr. Semes.

“Don't forget to analyze your numbers and be generous to those who got you to where you wanted to be for the year,” says Dr. Schachet. “And most importantly, don't forget to be thankful for the positives in your life-family, friends, colleagues, health.”

“Don’t forget to take some time off and get away, even if only for a couple of days,” says Dr. Miller, “and don’t forget to give a little something to all the people who help your practice throughout the year (lab delivery people, UPS, Fed Ex, mail carrier, trash collector).”

“Don't overdue it or stress yourself out,” says Diana Shechtman, OD, FAAO.

“Don’t waste precious holiday time doing practice work!” says Dr. Townsend. “That can wait until next year.”

“Don't forget that people are infinitely more important than things,” says Dr. Chous.  

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