Dr. Mark J. Uhler, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Salus University, in 1992 with a Clinical Excellence Citation from The Eye Institute. In addition to working in both private optometric and ophthalmologic
It takes a lot to impress us as optometrists these days. Most of us enjoy a prestigious professional career with a flexible working schedule and a very satisfying personal life. So, why was I so impressed with a recent contact lens training seminar? Let me walk you through my virtual diary to share my personal impressions on this recent training.
I consider myself a seasoned optometrist as I approach my 50th year of life. Since my graduation from Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), now Salus University, in 1992, with the exception of Internet use in webinars, not much has changed with regard to continuing education. I don’t need to explain to you that it is still the old formula. As attendees, we will sit in a lecture room for the required time; sometimes we get lucky with a dynamic speaker, and other times the required time is filled with daydreaming about what's going on outside the lecture hall.
It takes a lot to impress us as optometrists these days. Most of us enjoy a prestigious professional career with a flexible working schedule and a very satisfying personal life.
So, why was I so impressed with a recent contact lens training seminar? Let me walk you through my virtual diary to share my personal impressions on this recent training.
More from Dr. Uhler: Easing the anxiety of "one or two?"
I receive an e-mail Tom Dowden, my Vistakon representative, who is excited to inform me that I have been selected by Johnson & Johnson The Vision Care Institute (TVCI) located in Jacksonville, FL, to attend a meeting on two new products (1-Day Acuvue Define and 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal). I think that this opportunity is going to be a long commercial for the new products and, despite my skepticism and because they are offering the trip all expenses paid, I jump at the opportunity. I decide that June 5, 2015, works for my schedule, and I plan accordingly. If nothing else, it will afford me time to catch up on Facebook and e-mails.
The travel form arrives via e-mail providing me with my schedule and travel arrangements. I complete the form and cement my travel to Jacksonville takes minutes and I am done. Easy as one, two, three.
My flight arrangements are finalized and, regardless of having to make a connection in Atlanta to get to Jacksonville, I remind myself that the trip is all expenses paid. Even though the flight is not direct, what the heck, I can use the time to catch up on the Internet.
I am asked via e-mail to complete a simple evaluation called the DISC Assessment. This personal assessment is a tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork, and communication, particularly in my practice. It is requested that I take a few minutes of uninterrupted time to complete the assessment and the results of this assessment will be shared only with me. I am instructed that I should answer the questions from my gut and not overthink my answers. I am told there are no right or wrong answers to the questions in this assessment. The results will be provided to me at a training session in Jacksonville.
Hmmmm, I'm intrigued! Here were a few teasers at the bottom of this e-mail from people have taken the assessment:
“I enjoyed this tremendously. I would like all of my staff to do this!”
“It was very thought provoking… definitely something I can bring back to my practices and personal relationships!”
“I'm impressed by the results the test can generate in 24 questions. It was surprisingly accurate.”
More from Dr. Uhler: Mastering your optometric obstacles
Final confirmation emailed for the meeting. My hotel reservation and ground transportation have been prearranged for me according to my flight itinerary. I was not required to lift a finger to make any of these arrangements.
Life is good!
I receive an e-mail from Rosanne Rogers, the meetings and events manager, to decide one last detail. On June 5, directly after the TVCI program, I will be having dinner at a local venue. I have the opportunity to select among four dinner options-nice touch that made me feel pretty special!
June 4, 2015
I’m off for my big adventure. I board a shuttle with five other doctors from various regions of the U.S. after an uneventful flight. The five of us are shuttled to the Aloft Hotel, a contemporary hotel designed by the Rockwell Group whose founder was David Rockwell.
At the hotel, I received a welcome packet with all the necessary information detailing my activities for the next two days.
Wearing my nametag, I attended a welcome reception dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Tactic Ballroom at the hotel. The dinner provided an excellent networking opportunity with the 47 attendees, as we meandered among four stations offering a variety of food options to satisfy the most finicky of tastes.
Everyone was instructed that the transportation to TVCI was leaving promptly at 7:45 a.m., so a hot breakfast was available starting at 6 a.m. Upon arriving at TVCI at 8 a.m., a continental breakfast was available. I would assume the continental breakfast was for those who did not want to rise early enough to take advantage of the hot breakfast at the hotel. Lucky for me, I was an early riser and took advantage of both. I’m sure you are all beginning to see a food theme attached to this event.
TVCI is a state-of-the-art facility with a history of providing the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to excel in the field of optometry. A fact you may not know is that one in five optometrists in the U.S. is an alumnus of TVCI.
In the interest of time in reading this article, I’m going to highlight the day with general information that I could see resonated well with the attending doctors.
To begin, 1-Day Acuvue Define, a new category of eye enhancement contact lenses that accentuate natural beauty, is already the number-one beauty contact lens in Asia. 1-Day Acuvue Define has sophisticated iris-inspired designs that combine an outer darker limbal ring-to give eyes greater definition by creating contrast between the iris and sclera-and an inner translucent light-effects pattern-to add depth and definition without changing the eye’s natural color. Independent research shows that people are more attracted to women and men with pronounced limbal rings because limbal rings are associated with a healthy and youthful appearance.1 I had the opportunity to try the lenses on during one of the break out sessions. The Sparkle 1-Day Acuvue Define definitely enhanced my blue eyes. Just remember to tell your patients to compare the difference when only one enhancement lens is in.
Related: Top multifocal contact lens tips
Because of my age, I was particularly interested in 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal. This is the only multifocal lens specifically designed to match the aspheric center-near optical design to the pupil size as it changes across the refractive range and as the patient ages. Because I am a current multifocal lens wearer and have tried all other multifocal brands on the market through the years, I was anxious to finally try this specific multifocal lens. As luck would have it, another breakout session allowed me to personally try the lens in addition to fitting two patients in TVCI. I was so impressed with this product that going forward it will be my personal lens of choice to wear in addition to recommending the lens to my presbyopic patients.
As an aside, the lectures concerning 1-Day Acuvue Define and 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal incorporated a bit of ingenuity. The doctors were collectively asked multiple-choice questions intermingled throughout the lecture, and the results were immediately tabulated using an audience response system (ARS). This certainly kept my attention because I was able to compare my answers to those in the group.
The third break out session was the manufacturing tour. Have you ever wondered how contact lenses are made? I was amazed at observing the technology that goes into manufacturing the product. I have a new appreciation for what it takes when I fit a patient with these medical devices.
So, now we get to the really good stuff: behavioral communication. As I mentioned earlier, I completed a DISC Assessment evaluation prior to attending this seminar. The results were ready to review with the Director of TVCI, Colleen M. Jones.
What is DISC? DISC profiles help you and your team increase your self-knowledge: how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems. In addition, it facilitates better teamwork and develops stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to the patient. A doctor can manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members as well as become more self-knowledgeable and well-rounded doctors.
More from Dr. Uhler: Are you a real doctor?
I’m going to use my behavioral style profile as an example. Keep in mind that behavioral research suggests that the most effective people are those who understand themselves, both their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing these key components of oneself helps to develop strategies to meet the demands of your environment. In addition, all people exhibit all four behavioral factors in varying degrees of intensity: Dominant, Influencer, Steady, and Compliant. I scored high for Dominant 78 percent and Compliant 74 percent.
General characteristics: “Mark (me) establishes many standards for himself and others. His high ego strength demands that his standards will be met. He can be incisive, analytical, and argumentative at times. He is a self-starter who likes new projects and is most comfortable when involved with a wide scope of activities. Mark may not trust others to do his projects. At times, he may be reluctant to delegate certain tasks. He likes to be forceful and direct when dealing with others. His desire for results is readily apparent to the people with whom he works. Many people see him as a self-starter dedicated to achieving results. His sensitivity to errors and mistakes sometimes tempers his aggressiveness. He may be accused of being ‘work compulsive’ because of these tendencies. Mark likes people, but can be seen occasionally as cold and blunt. He may have his mind on project results, and sometimes may not take the time to be empathetic toward others. He is extremely results-oriented, with a sense of urgency to complete projects quickly.
“Mark likes people who give him options as compared to their opinions. The options may help him make decisions, and he values his own opinion over that of others! His creative and active mind may hinder his ability to communicate to others effectively. He is not influenced by people who are overly enthusiastic. They rarely get his attention. He usually communicates in a cool and direct manner. Some may see him as aloof and blunt. Mark tends to be intolerant of people who seem ambiguous or think too slowly. He likes people who communicate with him in a clear, precise and brief conversation. When communicating with others, Mark must carefully avoid being excessively critical or pushy.”
WOW! At first reading, I was surprised that words were describing me this way. After the initial shock subsided, I was prepared to learn how knowing this information about me can be of benefit to my relationships, patients, and practice.
It boils down to this: Knowing my own behavioral characteristics can help me be a better doctor by learning to adjust to the behavioral characteristics of my patients. Ultimately, the patient’s experience can be enhanced through this interaction. Therefore, the tips given to me when I communicate with another Dominant individual is to stick to business and be organized as well as realistic. If I encounter an Influencer, I need to ask “feeling” questions to draw his opinions or comments; don’t deal with a lot of details. Try to provide a warm and friendly environment. Next, a Steady individual usually wants me to break the ice with a personal comment. She wants me to present her case softly and nonthreateningly. Finally, a Compliant individual wants me to be clear, specific, brief, and to the point. He, too, wants me to stick to business but be prepared with support material in a well-organized “package.”
The day ended with an exquisite dinner in a restaurant just off the beach. How nice to drink a glass of wine with a warm ocean breeze on your face.
My adventure ends. The transportation for my departure was at the front of the hotel waiting for me at 8:30 a.m. after enjoying another hot breakfast one last time at the hotel. On the ride from the hotel to the airport, I overheard some doctors saying to each other that they were glad they attended this event. I must say that I wholeheartedly agreed. I gladly put my stamp of approval if you should ever get invited to this event. Better yet, ask your Vistakon representative the next time she visits your office. I promise you will not be disappointed!
1. Peshek D, Semmaknejad N, Hoffman D, et al. Preliminary evidence that limbal ring influences facial attractiveness. Evolutionary Psychology. 2011;9(2):137-146.