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The best and worst parts of holidays as an OD mom


The holidays have arrived. Let me count the ways that I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday season as a doctor mom.

The holidays have arrived. Let me count the ways that I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday season as a doctor mom.


Anyone living or working near a major mall understands why this is at the top of the list. All those crazy shoppers really affect your relaxing commute to work. I have nightmares about driving to work from Falls Church, VA, to Tysons Corner and never arriving. (If you are not familiar with Tyson’s Corner, please see Vogue Magazine’s list of events, and then book a plane ticket with a pocket full of money.) May the force be with you.

More holiday headaches: 8 things that drive ODs crazy during the holidays


This is the main reason for excessive traffic. Now, I do love when the shopping extravaganza occurs in my office. But everyone seems to be rushing to get the shopping done-or they want an Internet connection so they can get their shopping done. If they forget coupons? No worries! Take your sweet time to find the e-coupon on your smartphone you were smart enough to charge or we have another problem. NOTE: You cannot use e-coupons at Tysons Corner.


Patients all want to be seen by December 31

Dear patients: Your doctor has a life, a family, and needs to go shopping, too. Please schedule your visits prior to December 23. To all those doctors who have to work on December 31, may the force be with you.

Next: Bad weather


Bad weather

I know this varies with locale, but bad weather tends to bring wet feet and coats, sour faces, and dare I say, more traffic. It messes up our wonderful schedules, increases phone calls, and in general, creates havoc in our twinkling, holiday tune-filled world. Now as a doctor, I admit I love the term “weather closure” because it is the closest thing I get to recess as an adult. When it happens when my kids are already off? Double bonus day!

Related: 13 holiday dos and don'ts for ODs


I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday gifts that arrive by the truckload at our office. All that customer service training and smiling we do pays off huge in the form of cakes, cookies, and candy starting at Thanksgiving. I almost hire extra staff to avoid eating it all myself. Not only does this affect my glycemic index, it slows everyone down. Let’s face it-you can’t not eat during the morning patients. The force does not allow it. It also creates more work because the patients are so sweet to make it, deliver it, and then request they get the tin back clean. 

School parties

If you do not have children in elementary school or on a sports team, skip over this one. I have twins in elementary school and three soccer teams to accommodate. I have to carve the time from my schedule to plan, shop, deliver, supervise, and clean up for these events. And don’t forget gifts for these teachers and coaches-which I make myself because all respectable room moms are addicted to Pinterest, glue guns, and Michael’s craft store. I can make anything with a mason jar.

Next: Holiday wishes


Holiday wishes

I am outgoing, in case you have never met me. Our office overflows with enthusiasm, and our building essentially explodes with it over the holidays-which slows the walk to checkout to a crawl because we have to hug everyone. Holiday greetings = one minute per patient verbal/physical hug, except for Michele, my partner, who hugs everyone five times. If you are seeing Dr. Michele, prepare to wait for your hug.

More from Dr. Swartz: Why ODs are awesome

Holiday cards

We love holiday cards and affix them to our hallway arch for all to staff to appreciate. Dear patients: Please know we appreciate your card. Please do not request that all the doctors come to the front desk to acknowledge your card before you see one of them. Your hug comes later on the walk to checkout. 

CE panic 

It is the end of the year, and you realize that you are short on CE. RED ALERT. Dear Santa, I have been so very good this year, please bring me CE credits. Now in addition to carving out time for shopping, planning parties, supervising parties, cleaning up the parties, hugging everyone, and cleaning the food tins, I have to attend CE.

Next: Flex spending


Flex spending

Every year, I am amazed at how well patients understand their flex spending dollars and deadlines but are utterly confused about their insurance. Let’s just say this adds more time to the hectic day. (See that long list above.) Again, I applaud all those working on December 31. Enjoy your bonus.

Staff time off requests

I realize the staff want time to do all the holiday stuff, but I just wish they could do it when I was not working. I try to be accommodating, eat their share of the brownies, and leave the tin for them to clean.

More from Dr. Swartz: Dealing with nightmare patients

After-hours call

Pink eye is going around, the kids are still in sports, and everyone forgets to remove their contact lenses. Expect to go in. Repeatedly.

Questions from everyone

Christmas parties mean I have hundreds of people asking me questions about their eyes, their contact lenses, and refractive surgery. I have cards that I hold up that read, “Artificial tears are beneficial to your eyes.” “No, you should not wear your daily contact lenses for more than one day.” “Yes, I love LASIK but only if you are good candidate. Do you know if you are a candidate?” and “Cataracts are a GOOD thing now.” (See how I put cataracts into the refractive surgery part? Did you get that?)

Next: Money concerns


Money concerns 

I know everyone has them. We maximize patients’ insurance benefits, and if they bring us cookies in a disposable container we might do a few things free or give one more sample than we can spare. But we do not return money on custom-made frames because patients found them on sale elsewhere. Not gonna happen.

More from Dr. Swartz: Optometry on fleek

Santa stories 

The best part of the season? Asking children what they wans from Santa. The little ones give adorable answers like an older brother or a hippopotamus. The elementary school children are either feeling you out for the truth, trying to shock you with their requests for a Segway or hoverboard or similar toy of mass destruction. My favorite: the child defiantly hiding her request saying, “I wrote him a letter” while mom or dad sit exasperated in the corner not knowing what the letter read.


Happy holidays everyone! 

God bless us, every one,

Tracy Swartz, the Pinterest-addicted, glue-gun loving, soccer mom private practitioner in Suburbia, OD, MS, FAAO, Dipl ABO

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