Boosting Ophthalmic Technician Engagement and Retention

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Strategies for Retaining Ophthalmic Technicians for Practice Success

There are currently fewer than 60,000 ophthalmic technicians to work with over 19,000 practicing ophthalmologists in the United States, making the task of finding and retaining skilled personnel quite challenging. Once you have your technician team in place, retaining the team is paramount for the continued success of your ophthalmology practice. 

What is Ophthalmic Technician Retention?

At its core, employee retention refers to a medical practice’s ability to retain its employees and prevent them from leaving. Ophthalmic Technicians may choose to stay with a medical practice for various reasons, and it is up to you to identify and enhance those reasons. By strengthening what employees value about your practice and minimizing factors that may lead to dissatisfaction, you can create a work environment that fosters trust and loyalty, resulting in engaged technicians who are dedicated to your practice and your patients.

Why is Ophthalmic Technician retention an issue?

In today's competitive job market, employees have numerous employment opportunities available to them. According to AAO, some ophthalmic technicians are leaving their positions to pursue higher-paying jobs in other industries. The job market has expanded globally and digitally, intensifying competition among medical practices and digital health providers.

Additionally, the demanding nature of the job can sometimes lead to burnout and stress. In fact, Rosdahl & Kingsolver of Duke University found that 49% of ophthalmic technicians reported burnout in their 2017 survey, higher than other groups, including medical doctors. It's important to address these issues and foster a work environment that promotes engagement and well-being. 

Strategies to Improve Ophthalmic Technician Retention

Enhancing job satisfaction, motivation, and overall engagement can help improve employee retention. Specifically, here are a few strategies to consider for your practice.

Involve technicians in decision-making: Instead of shouldering all the decision-making burden yourself, invite your technicians to be part of the process. For example, if you are evaluating different visual field analyzers such as Virtual Field, have your technicians test it out on each other and on patients, and ask for their feedback on ease of use, portability, and more. Involving them in the decision-making processes allows them to contribute their insights and feedback, not only empowering technicians but also enhancing their sense of value within the practice. 

Invest in professional development: Prioritizing professional development is essential for the growth and retention of ophthalmic technicians. Encourage your technicians to engage in industry events like conferences and workshops, either with you or independently. Such events offer valuable opportunities for technicians to broaden their knowledge and connect with experts in their field. These experiences can significantly boost job satisfaction and motivation, as technicians acquire fresh skills and perspectives that can be applied to their daily tasks.

Cater to each team member's strengths: Each member of your team has unique strengths and talents. In particular, according to Eyes on Eyecare, technicians may excel at anticipating the doctor’s needs and educating patients, as well as patience, speed, and empathy. Recognize these strengths and provide opportunities for team members to leverage them. By acknowledging your team’s skills, you demonstrate their value and boost their engagement.

Offer resilience or wellness programs: 

Implementing wellness programs that focus on the mental well-being of ophthalmic technicians can contribute to their overall job satisfaction and retention. For example, Rosdahl & Kingsolver of Duke University developed a resilience program that included wellness emails, a grand rounds presentation, and a “Doctors Lounge” discussion series. The preliminary feedback from the participants was positive, indicating perceived benefits such as enhanced collegiality, life skills, and improved self-management.

The shortage of ophthalmic technicians poses a significant challenge for medical practices. However, by prioritizing employee retention and implementing employee-focused programs, ophthalmology practices can create a work environment that fosters engagement and loyalty among their technicians. Ultimately, prioritizing employee retention fosters a sense of trust, loyalty, and commitment, benefiting the technicians, patients, and the practice as a whole.

About Virtual Field

Virtual Field delivers an exceptional eye exam experience. Eye care professionals including ophthalmologists and optometrists examine patients faster, more efficiently, and more comfortably than ever before. Exams include Visual Field, 24-2, Kinetic Visual Field (Goldmann Perimetry), Ptosis, Esterman, Color Vision, Pupillometry, and more.

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