Ophthalmology Business

DEC 2012

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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continued from page 20 time can mean a 4-day workweek, reduced hours one or two days a week, or job sharing. Ophthalmic practice management consultant John Pinto, Pinto & Associates, San Diego, notices a definite trend among ophthalmologists toward part-time work. He estimates about two out of 10 ophthalmologists who are in their 50s and 60s are working a 4-day workweek, although those physicians may see as many patients as the full-timers. For ophthalmologists who are in their 60s and 70s, about half are exiting completely, and the other half are continuing part-time non-surgical work, Mr. Pinto observes. Mr. Pinto also estimates that about a third of ophthalmologists right out of medical school are expressing an interest in reduced hours. "Two-thirds appear to be nearly as 100% work-focused as the previous generations, while a third seek a less time-demanding, less risk-taking, less all-consuming career," Mr. Pinto said. "Gender issues also arise. Half of all new grads are now women, many of whom have delayed starting a family to complete their training." Ophthalmologists are lucky to be in a specialty that allows for some scheduling flexibility. "Ophthalmology is a great specialty to pursue part time at the outset and then to ramp up commitments as parental demands taper," Mr. Pinto said. In this article, two part-time ophthalmologists provide a snapshot of why they made that choice and how it plays out at their respective workplaces. Family priorities, reduced hours Working in a flexible department has allowed Nathalie M. Guibord, M.D., cornea, refractive and cataract surgery, Department of Ophthalmology, 5 tips to consider for the part-time plunge 1. Plan to work harder when you're in the office … and out. Essentially, you have to do more in fewer hours. This often means working more intensely when you're seeing patients, taking administrative work home, and being open to treating the occasional emergency case or taking a patient call during your time off. 2. Spread around your hours if you can. If you switch from full-time to reduced hours, you may not be able to see all of the same patients you previously treated. If you can work mornings some days and afternoons other days, you may be able to retain more patients. 3. Stay in the loop. Make yourself available for meetings even if they occur on days off. When you can't make meetings, request copies of the minutes so you are aware of any important developments. Plus, consider any required involvement on committees or other groups as a positive way to stay in touch with what's happening in the practice or department. 4. Use part-time availability as a recruitment tool. If you manage a practice and can offer some part-time physician work, promote that as a recruitment advantage. 5. Have a back-up plan. Think through in advance where your children can go if you have to do surgery on a day when you're usually home. 22 Ophthalmology Business • December 2012 Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa., to work 2½ to 3 days a week seeing patients. Including chair time and other administrative work, she puts in a total of 35-40 hours a week. Dr. Guibord has three young children and opted for part-time work because of her family obligations. "As long as I see a certain number of patients and I'm not seeing them at midnight, my department is flexible," she said. In addition to a flexible department, Dr. Guibord said that being married to a supportive spouse—a fellow ophthalmologist who works full time and understands the business—helps with this kind of arrangement. In addition to her time seeing patients, Dr. Guibord has a reduced number of on-call hours and regularly takes administrative work home. She said she enjoys her half-time arrangement. "I can practice ophthalmology and still have a family," she said. However, Dr. Guibord said she is a realist about the limitations of part-time work. "I can't achieve the same career goals. I'd like to say the arrangement does not affect my career, but I think it does," she said. She also still has to respond to emergencies, even if they occur on her so-called days off. There have been times when a babysitter has not been available and an office assistant has had to help watch her children. "I can't say, 'Sorry, I can't operate on your open globe.' Things happen," she said. Job sharing Amir Arbisser, M.D., and Lisa Arbisser, M.D., whose practice in Iowa has various locations and 21 doctors, wanted to take off more time from their practice to spend time with their grandchildren and enjoy their house in Florida. However, when they would take a few weeks off, their office assistants did not have enough work to sustain

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