Recently, Ralph Chu, M.D., was featured in Ophthalmology Management. As a leader among refractive surgeons, Dr. Chu’s longstanding experience as a LASIK surgeon and running a successful practice allows him to guide other surgeons in creating successful and healthy medical practices.
This is the article he wrote that was originally published by Ophthalmology Management.
How you can make the best out of a major change in your practice
When a crisis happens in your practice, it can feel like the end of the world. After all, managing the change resulting from a crisis is a skill we don’t learn in medical school or formally in our training.
One mechanism I have drawn upon to handle change in my practice comes from my Chinese heritage. In Chinese, “crisis” is broken up into two characters: Wei Ji. The first character means danger, and the second character means opportunity. And I can’t think of a more perfect way of describing how to get through change. In this article, I’ll explain how embracing this mindset has helped me to navigate two major challenges I have faced in my practice.
1. Losing a Key Employee
When a key employee moves on, you may think, “How am I going to go forward now? This person was so critical to my culture and team.” But in my experience, this can actually create opportunities where you find people stepping up or find other people joining your practice that move you forward to something positive.
For example, an optometrist friend had been with me for 17 years. We had built the practice together and had a great personal and professional relationship. Because of a change in his spouse’s employment opportunities, he had to leave the practice and move across the country. This created a pretty big shift in the landscape of how our practice ran, as he oversaw the clinic and would tend to see the more challenging patients.
However, his departure created an opportunity to reimagine how we wanted the clinic to look. Our goal was to create cohesiveness and a strong collaborative team. Through strong communication along with daily huddles, weekly meetings, strategy sessions, and creating an environment that encouraged and embraced feedback, we were able to develop into an even stronger team than we had been before. Our other providers stepped up nicely as leaders and really leaned in during this time of transition, which was very rewarding for the practice as well as for their professional growth and development.
2. Maintaining Connection During the Pandemic
One of the biggest challenges our practice faced was connection during the pandemic — as a team of caregivers, with family, with friends, and with our patients. For our patients, we provided tools such as telehealth. But, to maintain the connection with each other and to boost morale among staff, we tried something a bit different — we incorporated meditation into our staff meetings.
For example, we set time aside in our meetings and meditated as a group (with a guided meditation from the Peloton app), which we continue to do today. At first, it was a bit scary to introduce this into our practice setting, but the staff have appreciated making this a part of our meetings, and I have seen how this has caused positive transformation in the practice culture, as well as the individual. One of my employees has even made meditation a regular practice with her family.
It has been fun to watch people of all skills, abilities, ages, and seniority levels grow and connect with each other. It has also improved our communication with each other and has made us more flexible. So, we turned a negative into a very positive thing that we all look forward to.
While we don’t always get to control what happens to us, we can choose how we respond to it. So, instead of reacting in panic and being afraid of what might happen, try to be open to the opportunities that may arise from this change. Also, try something you wouldn’t normally do in your practice to help facilitate better communication and connection. Incorporating mindfulness training into our practice has allowed us to come together as a group and address all the changes our practice was facing in a more positive way. OM